“He must increase, while I must decrease” (John 3:30). One of the greatest trials for human nature is the realization of one’s insignificance before the moral loftiness of another human being. A great deal of humility is needed to yield to a rising luminary, knowing that everything that went before would be replaced by new forces, new points of view.
The growing power of the Saviour did not, however, arouse in St. John the Baptist even an iota of envy or bitterness. Being a strong, decisive, and independent person by nature, he could have competed with Christ by attracting the credulous crowd to himself and becoming the founder of a new teaching, establishing a new school of thought. But such an idea was totally foreign to St. John the Baptist. On the contrary, while drawing attention away from himself, he constantly and reverently pointed to Christ. Considering himself to be only the precursor of the Saviour, he was satisfied with announcing His arrival and then disappeared from view like the morning star before sunrise. He immediately realized the majesty of the coming Saviour; from that moment everything personal in him disappeared and, as a mighty tree felled by lightning, he fell down before Christ, saying: “He must increase, while I must decrease.”
Let us learn total humility from St. John the Baptist, and let us learn to disregard our own ego in a common effort, being always ready to give way to another. Let us first and foremost keep in mind the goal which we are striving to attain, without being bogged down in petty details which often hinder the whole matter. The common effort will have greater power and greater benefit if it is not diluted by the personal considerations and petty feelings that so often destroy the entire cause! Following the example of the Baptist, let us always be ready to remain in the shadow and to rejoice over the success of others; let us not be concerned with our own glory, and let us not allow the evil spirit of envy to enter our hearts, but let us rather pray that the grace of selflessness and self-abnegation be granted to us. Let us also remember that John’s main concern was to point to Christ and that his major testimony concerning Him was: “Here is the Lamb of God Who takes upon Himself the sins of the world.” He pointed Christ out, he sent the people to Him, he rejoiced over Him and triumphantly proclaimed: “The Father loves the Son and has given all into His hands.”
Let our hearts echo John in this; let us glorify Christ with our lips and our lives, so that He may reign supreme in our souls, and so that we (in our sinful nature) may decrease, while He may increase in us.