"Amen I say to you, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is." (Matthew 11:11)
Saint John the Baptist is by far my favorite Saint. I strive to imitate him in my unique situation in life. For clarity in regards to his life, quality, virtues and works I recommend reading Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's visions.
This teaching of Jesus has always been a bit enigmatic to me, however this morning at Mass I seemed to have had a moment of clarity. I think interpreters have tended to overthink this teaching. Surely we can assume that Mary and Jesus Himself are excluded from this teaching since they both had miraculous conceptions and births as well as dignity and works that are in another league than anyone. They are in one sense incomparable. What I think Jesus is teaching here is that once one graduates to Heaven, sees God face to face, and so on, one is endowed with a certain dignity and power that cannot possibly be attained on this Earth as a member of the Church on Earth. So even though John the Baptist was in his time the greatest and holiest among the active Church on Earth he is still not equvalent to even the least member of Heaven which of course included the Holy Angels at his time. Jesus is providing a concept, a comparison of the unspeakable greatness of those with God in Heaven.