The Church keeps today as the “Memorial of the Passion of John the Baptist.” In that she is referring to his beheading at the request of Salome, but didn’t his passion began much earlier than that?
Wasn’t John the most popular man of his generation? Why, weren’t thousands flocking to him from Judea, Galilee and even the Diaspora? They were shouting that he was the Messiah. Why did he keep insisting he was not worthy to untie the Messiah’s sandal straps?
It is said that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and that is so very true. What a struggle John must have had in staying humble!
I just read the memoirs of a Frank Langella who has been on the Broadway Stage for fifty years, affording him the opportunity to share long runs with stars like Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, and Yul Brynner. Now, he spoke most favorably about thirty or forty famous men and women he had worked with, but he had to say that Laurence Olivier and Richard Burton found it hard to deal with the fading of their glory, and he described poor Yul Brynner as a victim of his success.! To the end, on or off the stage, Yul seemed to believe that he actually was the King of Siam.
All of us who have gone through life without gaining fame should be thankful for that. God must have known that we were not big spirited enough to stay sane under the pressure of big success.
More than in his martyr’s death, John attained greatness by repeating with complete sincerity that, “He must increase, while I must decrease.”