Man is ordered to the good, the true, and the beautiful because in such things we encounter God. There are many artist depictions of the remarkable moment the angel Gabriel greets Mary and, to her astonishment, delivers God's message that she will conceive and bear a son. As a devout Jew familiar with the Messianic prophecies she learns she will be the mother of Emmanuel - God with Us - the child who will one day rule all the nations, who will be the light of the world, and the fulfillment of God's promises to his children of Israel. It is Mary's "yes" that puts God's plan into motion; and in that yes, a "yes" we call Mary's "fiat," we are reminded that God's invitations always invite a response. As my good friend, Patrick van der Vorst at Christian Art suggests, the story of the Annunciation in Luke's Gospel is a reminder that, "We too can be filled with grace and let grace be poured into our hearts, if like [Mary], we listen and respond to God’s message of love." As this Advent season draws to a close, as we anticipate and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at this Christ's Mass - this Christmas - let us ask the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to receive God's loving invitation meant for all of us - for each of us. In the words of the late Francis Cardinal George, "When our hearts are open the Lord can change and transform us, so that one day we can speak with love about the One who is love." Come, Holy Spirit! That is a beautiful message of this Advent season. We must open wide the doors of our hearts to Christ. Such openness can be our response. Let us then invite Jesus into that space and ask him to enkindle the dark recesses of our heart to let his light shine and inflame us with his love. Let us invite the Holy Spirit to dwell within us so that we - body, mind, and spirit - may be a temple worthy of the Lord. Come, Lord Jesus! Mary is the preeminent model of Christian discipleship. We would do well every day to respond to God with an attitude of expectation - one of active anticipation. When God's invitation came Mary was ready. Are we? For a Gospel reflection about this painting please click on the image. Peace be with you! Thomas Disciple of Christ | Son of the Church
Man is ordered to the good, the true, and the beautiful because in such things we encounter God. As my good friend, Patrick van der Vorst at Christian Art suggests, the Gospel story of Jesus cleansing the temple is a reminder that we are called to examine our spiritual lives. In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul tells us, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?" (1 Cor 6:19-20). Let us invite Jesus into that space and ask him to cleanse the temple of our body; let us invite the Holy Spirit to cleanse our heart. Here, Jesus can root out our disordered attachments. As we cooperate with God's grace, especially through prayer, frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and reception of the Eucharist, we can conform our heart to His. When we do we can rejoice like St. Paul that, "It is no longer I who live but Christ within me" (cf. Gal 2:20). For a Gospel reflection about this painting please click on the image. Peace be with you!
Man is ordered to the good, the true, and the beautiful because in such things we encounter God. As my good friend, Patrick van der Vorst at Christian Art suggests, Ladislav Záborský's painting captures what today's Gospel reading from Luke's twenty-fourth chapter wants to make clear, "that the Risen Lord was not a ghost or a spirit. No, Christ was physically present and real after the Resurrection." For a Gospel reflection about this painting please click on the image. Peace be with you!
Today, we encounter "Doubting Thomas" by Jessie Boston. There are many today who doubt Christ's resurrection from the dead. Not only doubt Christ's Resurrection but doubt Jesus Christ ever lived at all. My answer to this is: Good! Doubt, fully formed, fully matured, brings us to investigate the truth of something. When we doubt, when we really doubt, we are not in some skeptical, immature, and boorish state of ignoring something. On the contrary. Doubt creates pause. Doubt creates examination. Doubt creates reflection. Doubt, in the most mature sense of what it is, causes one to fully immerse oneself into the object of doubt itself. This, fellow sinners, is the first step toward finding the reality and truth of something. Let there be doubt! Saint Thomas the Apostle lived, ate, walked, and prayed with the historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth, who Himself, suffered under Pontius Pilate (yet another certifiably provable historical figure in human history). As my good friend, Patrick van der Vorst, at Christian Art suggests, the painting is capturing the intersection of inspection (doubt) and faith. For a reflection about this painting, please click on the image. Peace be with you!
Today, we encounter "Christ Healing the Sick at Bethesda" by Carl Heinrich Bloch. This is a painting and an image of divine mercy. As my good friend, Patrick van der Vorst, at Christian Art writes, the painting is capturing the moment where Jesus "picked the one lonely man to heal" and that it was the man's helplessness which "drew Jesus to him." Patrick's Lenten Gospel reflection invites us to examine our own state. Are we in need of divine mercy? Do we invite Jesus into the preoccupations of our lives? Like the man in this story, it is our response to Jesus' question that becomes life-changing. As we approach the glory of Easter, let us allow the remaining days of Lent to help us examine the question Jesus proposes today: Do you want to be well? Let us respond humbly, not refusing God's loving invitation to receive whatever is from him, which is always for our good. For a reflection about this painting, please click on the image. Peace be with you!