“John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that, I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him… He must increase, but I must decrease.’” (1 John 4:20-21)
When the Magi got to Jesus, the Gospel of Matthew tells us: “they fell down and worshipped him…” This was their packaging: the outward sign of their inner disposition of humility before a king greater than themselves. If they had simply walked in, dropped their gifts, and bounced out, I am sure their gold, frankincense, and myrrh would not have meant anything to Jesus. Humility is a precious gift, one that draws God’s attention to us. The Apostle James teaches us: “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6).
Humility requires that we are able to say with John the Baptist in today’s Gospel passage: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). What was the secret of John the Baptist’s humility? He was always conscious of the fact that the ministry entrusted to him was not his personal property.
Listen to what he said in today’s Gospel passage: “No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven.” (John 3:27). How often do we remember this? How often do we ministers of God remember that we must decrease and allow God to increase in the hearts of our flock? How easy it is to hear terms such as: “My ministry, my altar, my church”, “I am in charge here.” etc.
To really teach us humility, John the Evangelist in today’s first reading addresses us as children. He says: “Little Children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1st John 5:21). This is instructive, we are children regardless of age or position in society. We make ourselves idols when we become proud and full of ourselves.
Finally, St. John invites us to have a deeper confidence in God when we pray. Whatever we ask from God, we ought to believe that we have received it already. Prayer is never in vain. God is ever faithful. Prayer teaches us humility. The more we pray, the more we realize our dependence on God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, I realize that I am nothing before you, work through me always that my life may become my gift to you. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 John 5:14-21, Ps. 149:1-6,9, John 3:22-30).