His humility opened a space within him for true joy to take root and set him free! John is a sign of contradiction for this present age, which, like Herod, is drunk on self worship and lost in narcissistic self absorption. He points to the path to true freedom, living a lifestyle of self emptying.'He must increase and I must decrease'. This way of living leads to becoming a new creation.
John is also a man to be imitated in both life and death. We learn from him how to live our lives as joyful penitents; ever aware of our utter dependency on God's grace. John still points to Jesus, in both his birth and his martyr's death. That is why we celebrate both.
Two millennia after his mission as the harbinger of Christ, we readily accept, as we should, his prophetic role in the revelation of God's plan of salvation and the advent of the Gospel. Yet, how might we have seen John if we had been his contemporaries? Would we have so readily accepted him, or might we have rejected him as a fanatic or extremist?
Let's face it: John was peculiar. He dressed like a cave man, ate insects and railed at politicians. He sequestered himself in the desert where he tirelessly initiated converts. He proclaimed the end if the people failed to repent and he used vivid and mystical imagery. In the popular "media" of the day, he was portrayed as a nut and dangerous fanatic.
John made himself terribly unpopular. At the end, he publicly and relentlessly criticized the personal behavior of the most powerful politician in Judea, Herod. As a result he was arrested and executed as a traitor.