January 11, 2020

“So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.”

This quotation of John the Baptist was one of the favorites of Father Eymard. It was at the root of his gift of self, and it reflected his desire to refer everything to Christ. The Baptist’s statement followed upon one of his disciples, complaining that Jesus was drawing more followers than John. John’s reply surprises them. They expect anger and hurt. But John doesn’t respond with anger and hurt at all. He instead makes four points:

  1. God directs our lives, not ambition.
  2. I am not the Christ.
  3. I find fulfillment in the bridegroom’s joy.
  4. He must increase; I must decrease.

It is so easy to define ourselves in terms of success, and feel hurt when others succeed more than we do, or while we even fail. John’s comment is insightful: “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.” God directs our affairs; when we judge ourselves by human standards, we err. John’s second point is that he had already told his disciples that he isn’t the Messiah, but only his forerunner (1:20-27). He reminds his followers of that today.

John’s third point carries this further. He is the bridegroom’s friend, not the bridegroom himself. Of course, using such a wedding analogy carries with it the overtones from the Old Testament of Israel as the bride of God and which the New Testament carries forward to the speak of the church as the bride of Christ.

“He must increase….” Our goal is not self-actualization, self-fulfillment, but letting Christ make us all he has made us to be. When he is greater in our life, all we do reflects God’s power.

In the past week, has Christ increased in your life?

Let Us Pray:

O Lord, help me to always keep you first in my life. May I never substitute my own glory for what belongs only to you.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)


About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015. His most recent book is A Eucharistic Spirituality: Inspired by Saint Peter Julian Eymard – Apostle of the Eucharist, which he co-authored with Jim Brown.