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Saturday after Epiphany – Year B

Posté par diaconos le 9 janvier 2021

The bridegroom’s friend is very happy to hear the bridegroom’s voice

Saturday after Epiphany - Year B dans Foi.

# In the antiquities of Josephus’ Jews An account of John the Baptist can be found in all the manuscripts of the Antiquities of the Jews (book 18, chapter 5, 2) by Flavius Josephus (37-100). Some Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army [Antipas] was God’s doing, and that he was rightly called the Baptist as punishment for what he did against John: for Herod had him executed, Herod, who feared that John’s great influence on the people might induce them to rebel (for he seemed ready to do anything he asked him to do), thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any harm he might cause, and not to get into trouble, by sparing a man who might make him repent when it was too late. Consequently, he was sent prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious character, to Macherus, the castle I have already mentioned, and was put to death there. The Jews thought that the destruction of this army was a punishment for Herod and a sign of God’s displeasure towards him .John died near the time of the destruction of Herod’s army in 36 A.D. However, in another passage Josephus states that the end of Herod’s marriage to the daughter of Aretas was only the beginning of the hostilities between Herod and Aretas, which intensified until the battle.


From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John

At that time Jesus went into Judea with his disciples, stayed there with them, and baptized. John, on the other hand, was baptising in Ainona, near Salim, where water was plentiful. People came there to be baptized. In fact, John had not yet been put in prison. However, there was a discussion between John’s disciples and a Jew about the purification baths. They went to John and said to him :  « Rabbi, he who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, he is baptizing, and they all go to him. »
John replied : « A man can take nothing for himself except that which is given him from Heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said : I am not the Christ, but I was sent before him. He to whom the bride belongs is the bridegroom; and the friend of the bridegroom stands there and hears the bridegroom’s voice and is glad. This is my joy : it is perfect. He must grow, and I must diminish. « (Jn 3, 22-30)

Jesus in Judea, the last testimony of John the Baptist

After this first stay of Jesus in Jerusalem where the interview with Nicodemus took place. Jesus left the capital, where his manifestation in the temple and the miracles he performed could not secure him the general adherence and approval of the theocratic authorities. He concluded that the work of preparation carried out by John the Baptist had to be continued and he joined in, and went to the countryside of Judea to stay there for a while with his disciples. There too, he joined baptism to the preaching.

John corrected and completed by saying : « But Jesus did not baptize himself, but his disciples did. « (Jn 4, 2) This baptism was like that of the forerunner, a baptism administered as a sign of repentance ; the baptism in the Spirit did not take place until after Pentecost : « Whereas John baptized with water, you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit in a few days’ time » (Acts 1, 5).

In the Christian Church, these two baptisms were united into one, which became the seal of regeneration : « He was not manifested to the sons of men in other generations, as he has now been revealed by the Spirit to the holy apostles and prophets of Christ. « (Eph 3, 5)  John continued his work, because the kingdom of God, for which he preached and baptized, had not yet been established. He needed a command from God in order to end his mission; he received it through his imprisonment.

John explained how the work of John the Baptist could still continue. Why was this observation necessary? It was necessary because the accounts of Matthew and Mark, which did not follow a strict chronological order, suggested that the imprisonment of John the Baptist took place before the first return of Jesus from Judea to Galilee, immediately after his baptism.◊

However, John, who reported a first trip to Galilee and a second trip, thus distinguishing these two returns, which the synoptic tradition merged into one, re-establishes the chronological order of these early times of Jesus’ activity. John’s disciples were not unaware of their master’s positive statements about his relationship with the Messiah.   John the Baptist showed what his subordinate position was with regard to Jesus : « He is the bridegroom, to whom the bride belongs ». John was only a friend of the bridegroom, but that was enough to make him happy.

The position that John attributed to himself by this comparison was that of friend of the husband, his intermediary with the bride, charged with asking for her hand in marriage, and finally with preparing the wedding feast. This role that John described in these details: the friend of the bridegroom stands there, at her disposal, he listens to her, he is delighted to hear her voice, during the wedding feast : « I will cause the songs of gladness and songs of joy to cease in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, the bridegroom’s song and the bridegroom’s song, for the land shall be nothing but a desolation. « (Jeremiah 7, 34)

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian websites

◊ Epithalamium : click here to read the paper →   What Does John 3:29 Mean ?

◊ Desiring God   : click here to read the paper →  Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, Past and Future

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

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