Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Vatican City

Church light diminishes so Christ’s light increases

Published July 4, 2013

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—On the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, Pope Francis called for the church to model itself after the prophet and courageously proclaim and serve Jesus even until martyrdom.

“Why is St. John a saint and not a sinner?” the pope asked.

“Because he never, ever understood the truth as his own. He didn’t want to become an ideologue,” the pope said. Therefore, the prophet “denied himself” so the light and truth of Christ would shine through.

The pope made his remarks during his June 24 homily at morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.

Pope Francis asked that the church not become ideological, by proclaiming its own ideas and claiming the Gospel as its own possession.

Instead, he said, the church must be like the moon, receiving and reflecting the light of Christ. The church’s light “must diminish so that he increases.”

“This is the model John offers us today, for us and for the church: a church that is always at the service of the Word, a church that never takes anything for herself,” he said.

The church must listen to the Word and courageously use its voice to proclaim Christ, pointing people to him and leading the way “until martyrdom,” he said.

The pope also highlighted St. John the Baptist during his Sunday Angelus address June 23 to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, saying he was one of the many martyrs in history who died for the truth.

“How many people pay a dear price in being committed to the truth,” he asked.

“How many honest men and women prefer going against the tide in order to not reject the voice of their conscience, the voice of truth?”

The pope said there are more Christians being imprisoned or killed today for their faith than during the early centuries of the church.

While these martyrs represent the greatest example of giving one’s life to Christ, there are also “everyday martyrs” who are not killed, but who “lose their lives” for Jesus by giving up their own egos and desires to serve others, he said.

Among these “martyrs of the everyday” are mothers and fathers who “put their faith into practice by concretely offering their life for the wellbeing of the family.”