The Lord's forerunner was a man, not a god; whereas the Lord whom he preceded was both man and God. The forerunner was a man destined to be divinised by God's grace, whereas the one he preceded was God by nature, who, through his desire to save and redeem us, lowered himself in order to assume our human nature.
A man was sent. By whom? By the divine Word, whose forerunner he was. To go before the Lord was his mission. Lifting up his voice, this man called out: The voice of one crying in the wilderness!
It was the herald preparing the way for the Lord's coming. John was his name; John to whom was given the grace to go ahead of the King of kings, to point out to the world the Word made flesh, to baptize him with that baptism in which the Spirit would manifest his divine Sonship, to give witness through his teaching and martyrdom to the eternal light.
(Hom. sur le Prologue de Jean, 15: SC 151, 277.)
John Scotus Erigena received his early education in Ireland, the country of his birth. He wrote the first medieval theological synthesis which shows a strong influence of the Greek theological tradition.
ST AUGUSTINE: Humility of John the Baptist
John the Baptist was regarded by some people as the Messiah but he told them: "I am not the one whom you think." He refused to accept the error of someone in order to derive glory from it. John admitted what he was, declared what he was not, and humbled himself. He clearly recognized where his salvation came from, for he understood that he was the lamp, and he feared being extinguished by pride.
-- Sermon 293, 4
Prayer. Thanks and praise to you, my God, who sound in my ears and who illuminate my heart. Keep me away from every temptation.
-- Confessions 10, 31
ST FRANCIS DE SALES:
I have often wondered what was the greatest mortification practiced by the saints, and, after serious reflection, I discovered this: Saint John the Baptist went out into the desert when he was five years old, knowing that his Redeemer had been born and was living not far from him. God alone knows how the heart of Saint John loved his cousin, Jesus, and how much he would have enjoyed His company. All the same, he remained for twenty-five years in the desert without once coming out. Then, after he had left the desert, he settled down to preaching without going to see Jesus, but waited until the Lord came to him. Even after he had baptized Him, he carried on with his mission! He had his spirit entirely detached from everything so as to do God's will and to serve Him.
(Letters 234; O. XIII, pp. 366-367)
O WELL for him that loves the sun,
That sees the heaven-race ridden or run,
The splashing seas of sunset won,
And shouts for victory.
God made the sun to crown his head,
And when death's dart at last is sped,
At least it will not find him dead,
And pass the carrion by.
O ill for him that loves the sun;
Shall the sun stoop for anyone?
Shall the sun weep for hearts undone
Or heavy souls that pray?
Not less for us and everyone
Was that white web of splendour spun
O well for him who loves the sun
Although the sun should slay.
('Ballad of the Sun.')