Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

An Interlude: Understanding and Mercy

In Christianity on September 15, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Gospel in Glass will require so many posts to describe the entire window, an occasional interlude will be posted on other topics, in hopes they, too, will be an encouragement.

Yesterday’s Mass readings prompted this interlude.  The reading from Numbers began, “With their patience worn out by the journey” (Numbers 21:4b). Depending on how you were feeling as you heard or read these words, you may not have needed more! How often have we thought, “Lord, this is hard.” Or “dear God, I am so tired.” Or “if You only gave me more money.” Or perhaps even, “Lord, let this cup pass from me.”¹

Yet, read further in Numbers 21. God sent serpents as a punishment for the people complaining about His provision and protection.  The serpents bit the people and many died.  This brought them to their senses and they said to Moses, “We have sinned in complaining.”²

Despite the punishment, there are two opportunities to see the immense richness of God’s grace in this passage. First note the understanding and compassion portrayed in the NAB translation.  The NIV and ESV render Numbers 21:4b as “the people became (or grew) impatient on the way.” That rendering almost suggests an inborn impatience that suddenly erupted.  How much more gracious, and how much more like our Heavenly Father, to recognize that their “patience was worn out by the journey.” It doesn’t make our complaining any less of an objective offense against God, but knowing that He understands our circumstances puts an open door before us to His mercy!

The second thing to notice is even more important. What was the remedy? God instructed Moses to make a symbol of the serpent and mount it on a pole. Anyone who had been bitten and looked upon this remedy, would live. This is a reminder to us that our Saviour was raised up on a cross before us! Our Saviour, our Remedy, suffered as no man ever suffered. So, as we look to Him and his cross, we should gain patience to bear the crosses we are asked to carry.

Our hope?  To be like Jesus, even in this. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”³ May we follow you, Lord Jesus Christ, and remember our crosses are small compared to Your own!

¹ Matthew 26:39, 42

² Numbers 21:7

³ Hebrews 12:2

Gospel in Glass, Lower Foreground II

In Christianity on September 2, 2010 at 4:01 pm

As we continue to meditate on the Gospel in Glass, let’s use this post to continue to “look around” the lower foreground of the window, before progressing to the Lord’s Mother depicted to the left of St. Mary Magdalene.

Gazing on the window, the viewer realizes the cross is set in what appear to be paving stones. In fact, at a glance it looks like a nice Tuscan garden! This is at odds with the grassy hill some of us imagined, while singing the hymn “on a hill far away, stood an old rugged cross.”

In reality, however, it is likely that Golgotha,¹ the Place of the Skull, was made of rock. The rock of Calvary can still be seen inside The Church of the Holy Sepulcher built by the Emperor Constantine to encompass the site of Christ’s tomb and the hill of Golgotha, the locations identified by St. Helena, the Emperor’s mother.  Even if Golgotha were not so, the stones in the window should remind us of Christ before Pilate on the Stone Pavement,² where so many of His followers abandoned Him.

Are we following faithfully? Courageously? The world longs for . . . it knows not what! Freedom. Security. Prosperity. Love. Spirituality. Yet we achieve all that, but want more. We remain unsatisfied. We remain empty, outside full communion with the living and true God—the only way to Whom is through Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life.”³

Be a follower first. Stand with Christ on the Stone Pavement. Go with Him to the rocky hill of Calvary. Then tell others of the immense riches in Christ you have found, and that—like the bride in Song of Songs 3:4—your heart’s response is, “When I found Him Whom my heart loves, I took hold of him and would not let Him go.”

¹ John 19:17

² John 19:13

³ John 14:6