Passion of St. John the Baptist

July 30 is the Feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist, remembering the death of John at the hands of King Herod. John’s death foreshadowed the death of Jesus and of the many martyrs through the centuries, who died for their Christian Faith, including those who are dying today. The window is on the right, above the main altar.

John’s ministry was to preach “… a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mk 1:4) In the window, John is baptizing the Lamb of God, symbolizing the baptism of Jesus. Water from a shell is being poured upon the Lamb’s head as it stands in the water. The scroll above John’s head reads “Ecce Angus Dei”, behold the Lamb of God. The scroll seems to flow from the Holy Spirit and a ray of light from the Spirit shines upon John’s head. It is through the action of the Holy Spirit in John’s life that he could recognize and proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God, who would offer Himself as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.

John’s cloak is red, a color symbolizing his martyrdom. Herod had arrested John because he had spoken out condemning Herod’s marriage to Herodias, the wife of his brother. Eventually Herodias had John beheaded. (Mt 14:3 -12) Behind John’s right shoulder is the axe. He is portrayed as a muscular man, perhaps symbolizing the strength of his austere life and the suffering he endured. He is holding a staff with a small cross at the top. He was the first to direct people toward faith in Jesus. The staff symbolizes the many martyrs down to the present day, who have been killed for their faith in Jesus and for its expression in their lives. The strength of John has been present in them also.

The Lamb is looking at John, for the passion of John foretells the Passion of Jesus. Rays of light, gold and green, seem to flow out from the Lamb. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, brings us the new life of holiness that John proclaimed.

As we remember the death of St. John the Baptist, may we pray for all those around the world who are suffering for their faith in Jesus. May God protect His people and give them courage to witness to His love. And may we pray for those who will give their lives today, that God would give them strength, courage, and the singleness of heart of John the Baptist.