Daily Gospel Reflection – Saturday after Epiphany
January 8, 2022
Saturday after Epiphany
Gospel: Ga 3:22-30
Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized, for John had not yet been imprisoned. Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew about ceremonial washings. So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.”
*United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, today’s Gospel focuses on John the Baptist. I think it’s fair to say that you cannot really understand Jesus without understanding John, which is precisely why all four Evangelists tell the story of the Baptist as a kind of overture to the story of Jesus.
John did not draw attention to himself. Rather, he presented himself as a preparation, a forerunner, a prophet preparing the way of the Lord. He was summing up much of Israelite history but stressing that this history was open-ended, unfinished.
And therefore, how powerful it was when, upon spying Jesus coming to be baptized, he said, "Behold the Lamb of God." No first-century Israelite would have missed the meaning of that: behold the one who has come to be sacrificed. Behold the sacrifice, which will sum up, complete, and perfect the temple. Moreover, behold the Passover lamb, who sums up the whole meaning of that event and brings it to fulfillment.
And this is why John says, "He must increase; I must decrease." In other words, the overture is complete, and now the great opera begins. The preparatory work of Israel is over, and now the Messiah will reign.