Reflecting Heaven Part 7: Ceiling Murals (continued)

06-09-2021Reflecting HeavenFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Last week we looked at the first four of our new murals currently being painted for the ceiling, and we learned that the overall theme of the set of eight murals is finding Jesus through Mary. This is done through eights Biblical scenes from Mary’s life, portrayed in bright, rich color and shape. As with all the murals, they are meant help raise our minds to heaven in all its multicolored splendor, drawing us toward greater union with God and his Church.

4. The Flight Into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-23)

The fourth mural turns to the Gospel of Matthew. God speaks to Joseph in a dream, directing him to take Mary and the infant Jesus and flee to safety in Egypt to escape the murderous rampage of King Herod, who seeks to destroy the Child.

This mural might well inspire us to pray for the refugees of the world, those who are forced from their homes by hate and violence. And that prayer may in turn lead us to act on their behalf, perhaps through supporting the St. Vincent de Paul or urging our legislators to defend the human rights of those displaced by terrorism and war.

5. The Presentation of Our Lord in the Tempe (Luke 2:22-35)

Jewish law taught that the mother of the newborn child was to purify herself at the temple. It also ordered that the first-born son should be offered to God. After the presentation, the child should be ransomed with a certain sum of money, and sacrifices offered on the occasion.

We find these words in Sacred Scripture: “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.’” Mary complies exactly with all these ordinances. For example, Mary remains forty days at home and She denies herself during this time the opportunity of entering the temple. After Mary completes the requirements, She walks several miles to Jerusalem, with the world’s Redeemer in Her arms.

Once in Jerusalem, Mary waits for the priest at the gate of the temple. At the temple, Mary makes Her offerings of thanksgiving and expiation, presents Her Divine Son by the hands of the priest to His eternal Father. Mary presents Our Lord at the temple with humility, adoration, and thanksgiving. The couple then offers the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. She receives Him back into Her special care, until the Father calls Him to offer Himself on the Cross for our redemption, our salvation.

Simeon, having beheld his Saviour in the flesh, desired no longer to see the light of this world, nor any creatures on earth. Recall the words of Simeon after he encounters Our Lord:

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

Let us never cease to pray that he purify our hearts from all earthly dross, and draw us to Himself: that He heal, satiate, and inflame our souls, as He came upon earth to kindle in all hearts the fire of His love.

6. The Wedding Feast at Cana (John 2:1-12)

The next mural we come to turns to John’s Gospel: the Wedding Feast at Cana. It is apt that this mural, too, draws us to the sacramental action in the Mass. Recall that the overriding theme in all these murals is Mary leading us to her Son.

Perhaps nowhere in Scripture is this more evident than in this scene from Cana. A couple is celebrating their wedding, and Mary did then what She does now: She recognizes their most basic need and intercedes with Her Son on their behalf. She simply says to Jesus, “They have no wine.” When He expresses hesitancy to act, She simply turns to the servers and utters the last of Her words recorded in Scripture: “Do whatever He tells you.”

There it is, in a nutshell. Mary’s instruction to us today is still to rely on Her intercession with Her Son, and then “Do whatever He tells you.” It is as simple as that.

Notice Mary, in the background of the mural. She observes the need of the couple and looks to Her Son. Jesus, the most prominent figure, directs the server. The server completes the story by not just listening to Jesus, but by taking Him at His word and doing as He asks, crazy as it may seem.

The second server waits in anticipation as he too responds to Our Lord’s request to fill the stone jars. As the water pours from the vessel (toward Jesus), it is transformed from clear water to rich red wine mid stream! This mural, then, holds a profound lesson of the Christian life: a need is seen and prayed for, and God’s will is made known and acted upon. Excellent food for thought at the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb – the Mass.

7. The Crucifixion (Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 19:25-27)

This mural merits an article all to itself, really. It is the first mural scene that is related in all four Gospels, which should tell us something about its importance. This particular scene reflects the Gospel account, in which we see Mary, and another Mary at the foot of the cross. In the background is a Roman soldier, who will use his lance to pierce Jesus’ side, from which blood and water pour forth, the source of the Divine Mercy image.

It is from the Cross that Jesus says: “Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took Her into his home.”

In terms of meditation at Liturgy, there’s a reason why a crucifix is so prominently displayed near the altar at Holy Mass. The Church tells us that our participation at Mass is a participation in the action of Christ. What is that action? Ultimately, it is one of total, complete, loving self-giving for the building up of the Kingdom of God. That is what this mural calls us to be and do!

If you would like to be a part of this historic moment in the life of our parish, please go to our website or contact our parish office to see how you can financially contribute to making our dream a reality.