The Symbolism in St Joseph Church #3

Jesus leads us through the storms of this life: all our uncertainties, sufferings and joys, both individually and communally. Sometimes we “see how strong the wind {is, we} become frightened” (Mt 14:30) and start wondering why He is leading us to such turbulent territory. We question if He is even leading us or if He cares. But He has the helm. He has His boat under control. He is leading His Church to the safety of the dock. The winds and the waves may be pushing this old barc and our very lives around, but we still have nothing to fear as Jesus is the one who leads us. He is the one who saves us (Mt 14:30-31).

Jesus leads us individually at the altar. It is at the altar of His sacrifice that he leads us. He leads us by example, encouraging us to love as he has loved us (Jn 15:12). From the altar, He also leads us by giving us the graces we need in this life and to get to heaven (Is 53). He heals our wounds. He takes initiative to cleanse us and sanctify us. The altar is also His throne. It is His seat where he was crowned with thorns which proved His love. It is His throne where He is adored and worshipped. It is His throne where we can only respond to such love and grace. It is His rightful place where no mere human could be seated, even if they dared, for the cross would crush them. Jesus is leading us, but are there areas in our life where will not let him? Do we trust Him? Have you let Him lead you in your mind and heart? How many decisions have you made this past week based on His will?
Jesus also leads us communally. If Jesus is leading us personally, that should affect the community as well. Moreover, Jesus wants to lead us in our decisions, practices, teachings, devotions, and liturgies. He wants to have a say in how we help the poor, each other and the community at large. We have many winds and storms individually. We also have them in the community. Do we trust Jesus will lead us through it all? Are we willing to do our part?
I look at the walls of the church and wonder who did all of that work. So many families that built this church still live here. One parishioner let me know of their family member who helped put up the bricks one hundred and fifty years ago. The people did their part in making this community. Their human toil was not in vain. They truly loved Him and served Him. We see the stones, bricks and plaster. We see the things of the earth along with the time, skills, sweat, blood and dedication that it took to build this magnificent building. It was the human labor that symbolizes this community’s reaching up to God. Before the building was even dedicated, the labor called upon God’s blessing and fruitfulness. And God has indeed responded with His grace.
St Thomas Aquinas teaches that grace builds upon nature. Man used his nature to build these walls, God gave His grace to let in His light. Just as the walls symbolize nature, the windows symbolize grace. If there are no walls, there can be no windows. These walls were built in the past, but to maintain them, the present must take care of them. We cannot look into the past and say, “Whew! good thing to know I don’t have to do anything about that anymore.” No. We still need to provide for the nature that grace builds upon. No generation is exempt from this. God’ plan for us individually and communally is to work through us, not despite us. He has a plan for you individually and for us communally. May His light always shine through us! May His light spread all the different colors of grace to souls who enter here!