In the splendid D’Orsai Museum, in Paris France, one of the top ten ranked Museums in the world, hangs an unusual painting of Christ. In a rectangular frame, the painting measures seven feet in length and two feet in width and rests on the wall at eye level. The Lord lies stretched out on a table, all washed and clean, about to be placed in His tomb. What a striking piece of work! As I stood only a foot away from the masterpiece, I could clearly see the muscles and the bluish veins in the legs and arms, along with the perfection of the artist’s work in His Face and other parts of His Body. How truly human Jesus was!
In my visits, I always stood off to the side and wondered how many people would stop and admire this Image of the Lord. Never did anyone come, at least in my time. People were rushing by in search of beauty and inspiration, and were passing by the Source of all happiness. I thought this experience made a good parable of life. In our modern day world, peoples of all ages have grown indifferent to Christ, the Lord of Lords and the King of the Universe. We can all fall prey to this blindness of heart.
From my own life, I can give you an illustration of this blindness. Years ago, friends gave me a gift of a wrist watch, an unusual one, because the face of the watch showed an appealing Image of the Lord looking out at me, with His arms outstretched. For some weeks, I was enthralled with my new possession, frequently through the day, gazing at this Holy Image and enjoying the consolation of His Presence. Suddenly, after a few months, the sad realization came to me that I was taking the Face of Christ for granted. Yes, I looked at the watch for the time, but passed over the Person on its face. These days, I am putting fresh fuel on my fire of love towards This Friend!
In years past, the news of Weeping Virgins, even here in Chicago, had caught our attention. If true, Mary weeps because people have forgotten the love and devotion due Her Son. Does she weep over my way or your way of indifference towards the Messiah, her Child of Bethlehem?
Marriage experts all agree on a deadly disease that threatens every married couple, a terrible malaise of spirit in which one or both spouses start taking each other for granted. The little marks of respect and consideration which keep love alive and flourishing disappear from married life. After a while, only a shell of the once delightful relationship remains. Breakup ahead! Our relationship with Jesus of Nazareth follows the same rules. Unless we offer daily our love, our hopes and our sacrifices to stay holy, to Christ, we can lose that closeness we once enjoyed.
Fr. George Mc Kenna
Death finds all, the rich, the King in his palace, the poor man in his hovel. No one can buy him off. Treasure the gift of life while still living and breathing.
Years and years ago, my mother and I planned a trip to Ireland so that after a 50 year absence, she might see her two living sisters. People around us said: “That’s too costly. You shouldn’t go.” Foolishly we cancelled our trip, allowing others to rob my mother of a memory of a lifetime, her one and only vacation. That incident taught me many lessons about listening to others who would cheat me of fulfilling my dreams with their shortsighted advice.
Make use of the present opportunities you have in life because the chance to use them may never come again. Honestly ask yourself, “Am I living as if I planned never to die? I would like to take that trip to see my family, the old country, but possibly, I should wait.” Go now while you can. Take a risk.
When you think of death in a positive way, as an angel of light, you will take each day as a treasured gift from God. Friends will mean more to you, especially your family. Personally, each day I hold out my arms to Sister Death, as St. Francis used to call her, and say: “Come today or tonight Sister Death, I welcome you.”
This welcoming attitude towards death brings peace of heart, terrific enthusiasm for living and a lighthearted outlook on life. Why worry too much about anything? Death will be a cure for everything. With this frame of mind, you will notice an urgency in your life, to want to do all the wholesome things you have in your plans.
Why deny yourself needed conveniences for your home if you have the money for them? Buy them now! Invest in a good music system for your home, an enriching investment for all. Spend money on yourself, good clothes, spruce up your living quarters. Why leave all your money to those who might squabble about it or show you little thanks?
Have the personal enjoyment of giving some of your money to a good charity or some God related projects. Yes, save something for rainy days, but too often that thinking is exaggerated. How long are we going to live anyway?
Make death a friend, a cherished companion, interesting, charming.
Fr. George Mc Kenna