Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Feast of the Ascension

This Sunday's Gospel is the Ascension of the Lord. Mark does not describe the Ascension, but artists have painted symbolic depictions of the event for centuries. This is a 1497 painting of the Ascension by the Italian Renaissance artist Pietro Perugino. The painting is rich in symbolism.

Perugino divides the painting into two parts, upper and lower, depicting heaven and earth. In heaven, the figure of Jesus is the centerpiece. His left hand points upward toward heaven. His right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing. On both sides of him are angels and cherubim representing heaven. The angels play musical instruments, which is a way of rejoicing in this glorious event.

On earth, the apostles stand gazing upward in awe, which is a reference to Acts 1:10, "They were looking intently up into the sky." Mary is directly underneath Christ. She can be identified by her blue cloak, as blue is the color symbolic of heaven and it is a reminder of Mary's role as the Queen of Heaven. Mary also represents the mother figure of the Christian church, which Jesus is leaving behind on earth.

To the left of Mary is Peter who holds a key. This is a symbol in reference to Matthew 16:19, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven." To the right of Mary is Paul who holds a sword. This is a symbol of the manner in which he was executed by decapitation. Paul also holds a book which is a symbol of him as the author of the Epistles.

Paul was not actually present at the Ascension. Mattias is also seen in the painting, although he was not chosen Apostle at the time of the Ascension. The painting is not meant to be a historic portrayal of the event. Instead, it shows the Apostles witnessing this incredible act of faith.

Jennifer Wood
St. Monica Young Ministering Adults
Santa Monica

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fifth Sunday of Easter

John 15:1-8

“Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” This verse pierces my heart. It leads me to reflect on my life, my past experiences, and my conversion. I was baptized into God’s family as an infant, but I didn’t know the person of Jesus, and I was unfamiliar with His Church. I did not understand the magnitude of the beautiful gift I had been given. I was wasteful and unappreciative. I thought I knew it all. I thought that I could find happiness in the world. I thought I was in control. I was wrong.

God started pruning me a long time ago. Some of that pruning was very painful. I experienced great suffering and loss. I was unhappy, maybe even miserable. I thought that no one in this world could possibly understand what I was going through. I felt profoundly alone, abandoned. Looking back on my past life, I now see all the missed opportunities where God was reaching out to me, but I kept missing the signals. I was ignoring His calls. It wasn’t until I was absolutely broken that I realized that something had to change. I was that branch that had begun to wither. I was trying to live my life without God. I wanted to be in charge, in control, but the more I tried to control, the more I lost control. My life was not fruitful, quite the contrary, I was on a path of darkness and destruction. I had lost all hope, until one day through the grace of God, I found myself with two true friends who prayed with me and introduced me to Christ. I will never forget that day. It was December 15, 2006. The following Sunday I went to Mass, and less than a year later I received my First Communion and Confirmation. Our God is a God of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances… It does not matter that I tried to live without Him. It only matters that now I am trying to live with Him, and I pray that you all will do the same.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Always remember that it is never too late to start heading in the right direction. May God bless you and keep you.

Tyra Trujillo
Long Beach Alive
St. Cornelius, Long Beach