Restore and Reset with Christ

Drainage

It has been a long time since I last wrote anything here.

As we embark on another year, perhaps this is a good time to think about restoring, renewing and resetting our faith journey.

It is interesting that during a trip I took to Rome in the summer, after visiting 20+ churches in the city, the image that impressed me most and got me thinking the most was not any of the beautiful mosaics, sculptures, paintings, or ornate archways in the churches or basilicas. Instead, it was the little drainage holes on the floor of the courtyard outside the little 4th century church, Basilica di Santa Pudenziana.  This basilica is definitely not one of the main churches that tourists would seek out; only, that it was not too far from the hotel that I was staying at.

There was something about the practicality of the crosses as drainage holes that struck me.  I wondered if the crosses were cut by “design”, or the random work of the worker who happened to have Christ in his/her mind constantly.  The church itself is situated at a level lower than the street level and one would need to take either staircases on both sides of the street entrance to get down to the courtyard and the main entrance of the church. I imagine it must be satisfying to see Christ draining away water to prevent the place from flooding during a downpour.  It must be comforting to think of how Christ can help us to get rid of the unwanted.  I think, sometimes, people think of God as far and remote, or Almighty as reflected by the huge sculptures of the Holy One as seen around the city. However, I just love the idea of a practical God that can help us solve some very real, everyday problems!

Perhaps, this image of the drainage hole will serve as a reminder of how we may rely on Christ to restore, renew and reset us for another year living with our faith.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.    –Psalm 51:10

Wishing you an amazing New Year filled with God’s grace and blessings, and wonderful opportunities to know Him more!

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

saints front

On a recent morning, I captured this image of the early light shining through the stained glass window of one church and landing right among the pews in front of the icon of Christ. This image made me think of the possibility of the Angels and Saints visiting and listening attentively to the Lord in silence.

This morning, when I was attending Mass, the bright morning light shone through the church window onto my face as I was standing for the Gospel.

bright sunlight

The priest was reading the line about the Greeks coming to Philip and saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus”.  I couldn’t help but think how the light forced me to close my eyes and, now, I would not be able to see Jesus. It was then that a conversation with the late Father Charlie came to mind.

Long ago, I asked about Purgatory and, specifically, why our souls would need to be in Purgatory.  Father Charlie thought that, perhaps, the light of God’s love would be so powerful that we would not be able to face the Lord if we were to head straight to heaven. We needed time to adjust to this brightness.  Thinking about the pews glowing in the morning light from a few days earlier, I think Father Charlie might be right.

Saints and Angels.jpg

The angels and saints, who are spirits or have been raised to life in heaven, may be fairly bright, just like those multi-coloured spots on the pews suggested. They are, therefore, able to stand in the presence of the Lord, seeing Him face-to-face, singing songs of praise! So, if you and I were to ask the same question as the Greeks and “wish to see Jesus”, we might want to look at the saints as our role models. Just like them, we can choose to follow God’s directions in life and embark on a journey of holiness.  Of course, we can always join in praising at church with the saints and angels:

“For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.

Let the saints and angels accompany us and guide us!

How quickly can you answer to “Do you know Jesus Christ?”

A good teacher once proposed the scenario where someone approaches me and asks,

Do you know Jesus Christ?

If you were confronted with this question, could you answer it as quickly as you would if someone asked if you know your mom or dad?

I challenge you to answer the question!

 

What would you need to give a positive response?

To say that we “know” someone, I suppose we first need to know many facts about this person. We need to know something about his physical appearance and “data”, such as his background, likes and dislikes, etc.

Indeed, we know the background of Jesus Christ from the bible. We can read about his genealogy, his birth, his human parents, his ministry, his death and resurrection, all from the Gospels.

What about his appearance?

I was checking out an old hymn, “Fairest Lord Jesus”, that is no longer in the present edition of the hymnal at my church, when I came across a blogpost by David Hamrick. In his blog http://drhamrick.blogspot.ca/2013/11/fairest-lord-jesus.html , he talked about how Jesus’ physical appearance was probably unremarkable, as Judas had to point Him out to the soldiers. Jesus was probably an “average-looking Galilean Jew.”  Yet, his inner beauty would make him be the light that shines in the darkness, and he would be “the most beautiful of all ever lived.” Hence, he is the “fairest” of all!

However, by knowing the physical appearance and facts about a person, we can only claim that we know of that person, just like how we know of a movie star because of all the pictures that we have seen and post that we have read on the internet. We will need to have intimate knowledge of the other. We can say that we know the other well only if we have had specific common experiences with the other, have private communications, be able to feel for the other, have challenged one another, respected or loved the other, etc.

I asked myself when I last communicated with Christ – the last time I talked to him, the last time I heard him, the last time I saw his glory in nature, his remarkable work in the good deeds that I witnessed. He often answered me in ways that only I could appreciate – the funny sign that I saw seemed to answer the question I had in my thoughts, the colorful bird that flew by when I was having a greyish day, etc.  I remembered feeling sad when I read about the government making medical-assisted death legal.  I felt Christ weeping when I heard about the fate of Christian martyrs and those betrayed by fellow brothers and sisters. I prayed for Jesus’ consolation as he stayed on the cross and he challenged me to be a better disciple. He gifted me with his life and I returned his love by singing praises and trying to follow his will.

So, do you have all that you need to answer the question positively? Do you know Jesus Christ?

I think I do.