Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, October 14

Let’s take another look at our church windows. We are now up to the pair of windows above Stations 9 and 10, that represent the “Life of Christ.” The artist, attempting to capture the three-year active ministry of Jesus decided to keep it very simple. In the window on the left as you face it, we see the monogram of Christ, the Chi Rho. It is formed from the first two letters (the chi X and rho P) of the Greek word for Christ, or “ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ. You can see a modified form of this monogram on the sail of the boat across the church in the window next to the one with the crossed keys. In the other window of this pair you see two fish and a loaf of bread. This is a reference to Jesus’ Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes (e.g. Mk 6:34ff) when Jesus feeds huge crowds with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish. These miracles in turn are signs or a prefiguring of the Eucharist. 

I am not sure how I would have captured the ministry of Jesus in such a small space, but I probably would have wanted to add more scenes to the window, maybe the jars of wine from the wedding feast at Cana, the coin with Caesar’s image on it, the tomb of Lazarus, the empty litter of the healed man who was paralyzed, the mustard seed and so on. It is probably better that the artist practiced such restraint and kept it minimal. This set of windows was given “In Memory of Mr. and Mrs. Cater Joseph by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Joseph.” 

Next to them (the windows, not the Josephs) as you move closer towards the altar is another pair of windows that represent the Resurrection. I am happy that, in addition to the Passion of Christ depicted in a set of windows on the opposite side of the church, we also have the Resurrection. In some churches I have been to in Central America there is such emphasis on the crucifixion, with bloody and gory renditions of it, that one gets the feeling that it is always Good Friday and never Easter. Perhaps for a population that is oppressed and suffering this aspect of Jesus is much closer to them and easier to identify with; but for us I am happy we have the balance. The Cross and the Resurrection are both necessary for the Christian life.  The Resurrection is depicted by a cross with yellow beams of light radiating from it, a sign of victory over the darkness of the grave and death. In the next window we see the Lamb with a white flag with a red cross on it. The Lamb is a reference to an image in the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation. It is an image of Jesus as the Lamb that was slain for us. For example, we read in 5:12 “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” Later we read: “They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony;” (12:11) and the Lamb appears in several other places. These windows of the Resurrection were donated “In Memory of Mr. S.A. Shia by His Family.”

What makes our windows so striking is the color. Now if someone was obsessed with a sense of order and was able to rearrange the glass in our windows so as to put all the like color pieces together – all the reds in one window, all the yellows in another, all the browns in a third and so on – all the artistic quality of the windows would be lost. The pattern and the beauty all comes from the disorder, or better, diversity of the various colors in each window. So it is also in our church community. It might be a lot easier for us all to get along if we all liked the same kind of music, all wanted the same approach to liturgy, all thought alike; but then any radiance or beauty of this community would be lost. Instead of the sparkling diversity of our parish we would have one rather bland uniform lump.  So, like our windows, we should let our diversity shine! 

God bless!



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