I. POINT. St. John declared expressly: "I am not Christ" (John I, 20). How great is the humility of this holy precursor! The honor of being considered the Messiah is offered to him, and he proclaims loudly that he is not the Messiah, that he is nothing, and that Jesus Christ is everything; he refers to Him all the glory that is offered to himself. The sinner, on the contrary, calls himself Christ, and makes himself God, when by a pride, as guilty as that of Lucifer, he attributes to hims elf what he has not, what he does not deserve, and refuses to God that which is His due, and, full of presumption, appropriates to himself the favors or the works of God, as if acquired or performed by his own industry and strength, adorning himself with the gifts of God, as if he had merited them, preferring himself to his neighbor, despising him, as formerly the pharisee despised the publican, and seeking a tribute of praise which belongs only to God, from whom we have received everything. "I will not give My glory to an other", says the Lord (Is. XL VIII, 11). One only has a right to it, He of whom St. Paul teaches us, that, although He thought it no robbery to make Himself equal to God, yet "He emptied Himself" (Phil. II, 6). It is Thou, then, O Jesus, who alone art holy, who alone art the Lord, who alone art the Most High, with the Holy Grhost, in the glory of God the Father.
II. POINT. From the two-fold knowledge of God and of himself, with which the holy precursor is filled, proceeds his ardent desire to establish the reign and the glory of Jesus Christ, even upon the ruins of his own. If he has disciples, it is only to teach them that there is but one Master, who is Jesus Christ (Mat. XXIII, 10), and to send them to follow Him ; if he receives praise, he refers it to Him, and takes occasion from it to make known the infinite distance between Jesus and himself. It is true, he says, that He comes after me, but nevertheless He was before me (John I, 30). My baptism is only a preparation for His; "I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes; He must increase, and I must decrease" (John III, 30): admirable words, which we ought to repeat with this great saint. He must increase, and I must decrease; may I die, provided He lives: may His love increase in me, and may my self-love de crease, may the old man perish and be destroyed; may the reign of the new man be established. O Jesus, may Thy divine life take every day new increase in my soul ; reign there absolutely and forever.
III. POINT. St. John, instructed not by the mouth of Jesus Christ, but by His spirit, speaks and acts like this divine Model; for Jesus Christ, although He is the Lord of glory, yet attributes to His Father, with whom He is one same God, all the glory of the great wonders that He works. It is not I, says He, it is My Father, who is always with Me, who does all these things; "I seek not My own glory, but the glory of Him who sent Me" (John VIII, 50). He hath given Me all things. If the Man-God speaks in this manner ; if, all-powerful as He is, He declares that He holds all from His Father; if He would do nothing for His own glory, shall sinful man be permitted selfishly to seek his own glory? If God humbles Himself, shall man dare to exalt himself? Let him learn, then, to abase himself, to attribute to himself only what belongs to him, that is, ignorance and sin; let all his presumption and vain-glory dis appear, for it is written: All the glory of the sinner shall perish (Ps. XCI, 8). The sinners have flourished in the world, but they shall be exterminated forever. Let the sinner, by a voluntary confession, forestall the necessary and terrible humiliation which will punish pride ; let him acknowledge alike the infinite greatness of God and his own impotence and excessive misery ; let him enter into his nothingness, like the holy precursor, and say unceasingly with David: To Thy glory, my King and my God, I consecrate my works; Thy honor alone do I seek and desire.
BY A MONK OF SEPT-FONTS. TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY THE RELIGIOUS OF THE VISITATION, OF WILMINGTON, DEL.
REVISED AND EDITED BY REV. FERREOL GIRARDEY, C. SS. R.
"Thy law is my meditation." (Ps. cxviii, 77.)