Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Death of St. John the Baptist

Today the Church celebrates the Death of St. John the Baptist, and you know what that means: lots of really cool pictures depicting the event. Here's Caravaggio's Beheading of St. John the Baptist (click for larger image):

Very few New Testament scenes pack the dramatic punch of the death of St. John. A great man, by all accounts, sentenced to death on the whim of a teenage girl. Or better yet, his death orchestrated by a fallen woman with terrifying political savvy and cunning. Or even better than that, the weak-kneed man who commits murder rather than face embarassment.

And towering above it all is the figure of Saint John. If I had to paint a picture of him in words, I wouldn't know where to begin.

He was a man who could survive in the wilderness on locusts and wild honey. He was a social lightning rod, drawing great crowds out to the wilderness to hear him preach and to be baptized. He was chosen by the Lord to be the messenger.

Having met a few self-proclaimed John the Baptists, let me tell you what was really amazing about Saint John: he was the real deal. When word came to him that he would pass away, that he would decrease so that the Lord could increase, he accepted it with love. What a thing to look into the eyes of a man who has subdued his flesh and earned the accolades of men, and to see...

What would you see? I don't have words to say.

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