John 3:30: "'He must increase, but I must decrease.’"- John the Baptist
Today we commemorate the birth of St. John the Baptist. It's a special day on our calendar due to the importance of this Biblical hero on the life and ministry of Jesus, but it is a lesser known fact that St. John the Baptist was St. Francis of Assisi's patron saint because it was the baptismal name given him by his mother when Francis was baptized. (Note: Francis' father rejected this name and insisted on calling him Francis.)
When we look at John the Baptist we can see his influence on Francis because John was a man who cared nothing for the praise or glory of human beings (recall his unique attire, preaching, and lifestyle in the wilderness). Francis emulated this in the founding of his "Friars Minor" and his own unique habit and commitment to poverty. John is well known for saying: "He must increase, but I must decrease" as he refers to Jesus. This statement summed up John's embrace of humility, which Francis also exemplified in embracing the title, "Fool for Christ." These men are models to us today of what it looks like to be a committed follower of Jesus. One of the most important steps on this journey is to seek ways to magnify God with our lives by letting go of the need to magnify ourselves in the eyes of others. Humility is never easy, but it is absolutely central on the path to holiness. Thanks be to God.