Wanting the good of a person means knowing how to step back at the right time.
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Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.
(Note: Today’s reflection is based on the readings for the day in dioceses where the feast of the Epiphany was celebrated on the traditional date of January 6.)
John is arrested, and Jesus begins his preaching. John takes a step backward and Jesus takes a step forward. This should be the dynamic of love. Loving our children, for example, implies that at some point we must step back so that they can make autonomous choices that take them forward. Wanting the good of a person means knowing how to step back at the right time.
John’s great lesson is in knowing how to do whatever he has to do while at the same time knowing how to get out of the way without protesting anything, without complaining, without having any demands. Jesus will also do this with his disciples. One day he will say that it’s good that he will go so that the experience of the Spirit can come to them.
In our spiritual life we experience different seasons and different times. There’s a time when someone acts as John the Baptist and teaches us about things on a human level. Then we become centered on Jesus, and many things change because he becomes the center of everything. Then Jesus almost seems to “abandon” us, but only so that the Spirit can be manifested in us. It’s a stage of purification from everything that made us feel secure up to then.
Even Jesus, who is God, does not want dependent relationships, but rather only liberating ones. Perhaps this is precisely why he spent his life healing and setting free many people:
“His fame spread to all of Syria, and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases and racked with pain, those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics, and he cured them.”
Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.