Monday, 22 May 2017
He must increase and I must decrease
In John's Testimony about Jesus, St John the baptist says this about Jesus:
"He must increase and I must decrease."
What does this statement mean?
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher in the early first century AD. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus. Scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John and several New Testament accounts report that some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John. Some scholars maintain that John was influenced by the semi-ascetic Essenes...
But the connection between John the Baptist and Jesus is much much deeper: They were cousins born exactly six months apart.
At the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to inform her that she would conceive of the Holy Ghost, he also informed her that Elizabeth, her cousin, was already six months pregnant with John the Baptist (Luke 1:36).
Considering that Jesus was born on Christmas day, the 25th of December, John the Baptist, who was conceived six months earlier was born six months earlier, on the 24th of June, which is celebrated as the Nativity of John the Baptist.
The Nativity of John the Baptist is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian church, being listed as a principal festival in 506 when it was celebrated in the same way as the Nativity of Jesus: it was a day of rest and was celebrated with three Masses: a vigil, at dawn, and at midday.
Now Christ was born on the 25th of December. At the time of the birth of Jesus, 25th of December was known as Brumalia. Brumalia was an ancient Roman, winter solstice festival. The name Brumalia comes from "brvma", [ˈbruːma] meaning "Winter solstice".
Brumalia was always celebrated on VIII Kal. Ian. (Servius A. 7.720). The eighth day before the Kalends of January was always December 25th in the Julian calendar, because December always had 31 days.
John the Baptist, being born exactly six months earlier, was born on the 24th of June. If at the time of the birth of Jesus, 25th of December was the winter solstice day, 24th of June, the date exactly six months away must have been the day of the summer solstice. So John the Baptist was born on the day of the summer solstice.
So Christ was born on the day of the Winter solstice, the shortest day, after which days start getting longer. And John the Baptist was born on the day of the Summer solstice, the longest day, after which days start getting shorter.
And so finally here is my proposed explanation for John's statement about Jesus: "He must increase and I must decrease". It is the light of the sun, the duration of the day that increases from winter solstice (birth of Jesus) to summer solstice, and decreases from summer solstice (birth of John the baptist) to winter solstice.
Is this solar symbolism a coincidence?