Thus, this first Christian community became the Church on the day of Pentecost, under the leadership of the apostles, and all went forth with a renewed sense of hope in the promise of Jesus who had told them to share the message of love, mercy, and hope with the entire world. This small group of people was unified in the communal life, in the breaking of the bread, in working to help the poor in their city, and mostly, in sharing the message of salvation in Jesus. (Acts 2:42-47) That message remains: all who believe and are baptized will indeed be saved. Sin cannot keep us from God, nor can death, now that Jesus has risen. We share the hope of the first Christian community in the wonder and beauty of being with God in Heaven forever, of every tear being dried, of no more suffering, and only joy. This hope is for everyone who commits themselves to Christ: no matter how badly we suffer in this life, we will not be alone and we will be given the joy of Heaven if we ‘persevere to the end in running the race,’ as St. Paul says. (Paraphrase of 2 Tim 4:7)
©Michele L. Catanese
Note: Next post will be May 21.
1. This is a painting called The Ascension of Christ by Giotto. (1305) It appears in Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, Italy. I chose this because I am particularly taken by the presence of Mary in the midst of the apostles and the two "men in white." I also love that Jesus is reaching toward Heaven and is being greeted by the angels and the holy ones. I also love the usage of lapis lazuli in the background, an element that was extremely expensive when this was painted, but which was the only way to make blue paint. Thus, this is not only a great work of art, but one in which the artist wanted to depict the richness of Christ.
2. This is one of my photos taken in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. I chose this because the lone, prominent cloud spoke to me of the Ascension as if it was rising to Heaven.
3. This is #6 (Violet, Green, & Red) by Mark Rothko. (1959) I chose to use it here because it, too, spoke to me of the Ascension of Jesus. The violet is very full: that is, there is a lot going on within the violet space if one looks intently at the texture and shading. The green, which is seemingly infused with gold seems to speak of the glory of God in creation; the red of the vibrancy of the community of believers who will go forth and share what they have witnessed. These are my reflections; you may have your own insights when spending time with this painting. https://www.kingandmcgaw.com/prints/mark-rothko/no-6-violet-green-red-1951-180661#180661::media:0
4. These are two photos I took at the Gemstone Beach in far southern New Zealand, not far from Invercargill. I chose to contrast the single stone with the group of stones to symbolize the beauty of the one, but the strength of the many. As a community, the many sizes and shapes become a community where all our varied gifts work together.
5. This is also one of my photos: it is the path leading to (and in this case away from) Franz Josef Glazier in New Zealand. As I looked through my photos the people walking on the path reminded me of the apostles on the journey to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth.
6. This is a wonderful painting called Oarsmen by French artist, Gustave Caillebotte. (1848-1894) Oarsmen have to work together or they will go in circles, and these two are clearly in sync as they proceed on their seaside journey. Members of the Christian community have to work together to make progress, of course, which is the point of this entry. You can obtain a copy of this at
https://www.gustavcaillebotte.org/Oarsmen.html and if you are interested, there is a short bio of Caillebotte found at https://www.gustavcaillebotte.org/biography.html.
7. This is a new icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols called St. Martha of Bethany. Martha's gift of service is legendary, in the best Christian sense. She is best known for laboring to serve while her sister Mary sat at the feet of Christ. Sometimes she gets criticized for her good intention, and while it is true we need balance between reflective prayer and action, one does lead to the other (in both directions!) You can find this icon, and if desired, can purchase the image in one of many different mediums, at http://frbillmcnichols-sacredimages.com/featured/st-martha-of-bethany-william-hart-mcnichols.html.