Pope Francis pointed to St. John the Baptist as a model for the Church: he didn’t claim the Truth, the Word as his own; he diminished himself so Christ could shine.
Pope Francis was struck by the fact that the “Church chooses to mark John’s feast day” at a time when the days are at their longest in the year, when they “have more light.” And John really “was the man of light, he brought light. But it was not his own light, it was a reflected light.”
John is “like a moon” and when Jesus began to preach, the light of John “began to diminish, to set”. “Voice not Word – the Pope said – light, but not his own”
“John seems to be nothing. That is John’s vocation: he negates himself. And when we contemplate the life of this man, so great, so powerful – all believed that he was the Messiah – when we contemplate this life, how it is nullified to the point of the darkness of a prison, we behold a great mystery.
We do not know what John’s last days were like. We do not know. We only know that he was killed, his head was put on a platter, as a great gift from a dancer to an adulteress. I don’t think you can lower yourself much more than this, negate yourself much more. That was the end that John met”.
“The Church exists to proclaim, to be the voice of a Word. The Church exists to proclaim this Word until martyrdom. Martyrdom precisely in the hands of the proud, the proudest of the Earth. John could have made himself important, he could have said something about himself. But he felt himself to be the voice, not the Word. This is John’s secret.
Why is John holy and without sin? Because he never, never took a truth as his own. He would not be an ideologue. The man who negated himself so that the Word could come to the fore. And we, as a Church, we can now ask for the grace not to become an ideological Church … ”