Years ago, I drove to Kenosha, Wisconsin, with a friend to visit an artist, a sculptor in wood. My friend had commissioned the young artist to sculpture a life sized figure in wood of the Risen Christ. At our arrival at his studio, in a loft, the artisan was working with mallet and chisel on a large block of wood, in the first stages of making an image of the Risen Christ.
Chips of wood had gathered at the feet of the young man, with his smock covered with dust and shavings. He was trying to bring to life a design he had drawn on his sketch board. Frequently, he would stop and look closely at the drawing to make sure he was proceeding correctly.
Shortly after, during Eastertime, 1992, I saw his finished work hanging on the sanctuary wall of my friend’s Church, a source of admiration and inspiration to all the worshippers.
This first time visit to the studio of a professional artist impressed me. The thought came, “I, too am a sculptor. In the studio of my heart, I am fashioning an image of Jesus of Nazareth, not with mallet and chisel, but, rather, with my daily life actions.” For my design, I keep before my mind the Jesus of the Gospel stories to help me know what I am trying to form within myself.
Each time, I live up to the values of Jesus by being honest, truthful, pure in mind and heart, loving and forgiving, I am forming the face and figure of Christ in a clearer way within myself.
The world calls a follower of Christ a “Jesus person.” A “Jesus person” tries to live out the ideals of Christ in all issues of life. Questions come often to such a person, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” “How would He deal with this sickness?”
As a “Jesus person” lives out the answers to the above questions, the image of the Lord takes on a glow, a brightness, a clarity of features. What a glorious calling we have: to follow Christ!
Fr. George Mc Kenna
One day last month, I was looking out my window. To keep me company, my first springtime robin came to lift up my heart. How merrily he danced about, picking up morsels from the grass outside my apartment.
In an unrealistic way, I thought to myself, this little bird knows more about Joy, Peace, and Love than I do. It has no refrigerator back in its nesting place filled with bird seed and goodies. Each day, it depends on its Loving Father for food to live. The robin comes to bring joy to my day and remind me about Our Loving Father.
The disciples of the Risen Christ, after being with Him for three long years, did not understand His message of Joy, Peace and Love. All of us, after having known the Lord for many years, have not caught on to the meaning of these precious Gifts. We can all say that we are at the kindergarten level.
Why are we so glum, without smiles and merriment? Fear controls our hearts so often. We do many unloving things every day. In my 20 years of schooling, I had two master teachers. What power teachers have! These two priests not only gave me food for my mind, but also, high ideals for my soul! They continue to influence me to this day.
Be not dismayed! We can graduate from the kindergarten level. During these 40 days of Eastertime, we can walk with the Master Teacher, the Risen Christ, to observe His Way of living. Hear His greetings to His friends, “Peace be with you.” Listen to His words of encouragement and forgiveness to those who let Him down. The gentle Voice of the Master should appeal to our hearts.
Every Easter weekend, the Gospel will tell of one of His visits after the Resurrection. Listen with Faith. Drink in the meaning of His Way of Love. Why can’t I be like that, we can say. Also, we can take the New testament and read the Post Resurrection stories in each of the four Gospels. In 40 days, we could raise ourselves from kindergarten level to a degree of Summa Cum Laude (with the highest Praise) from the University of Christ.
Fr. George Mc Kenna