Among my favorite windows here in the chapel are the “Workmen’s Windows,” (here to my right where you enter the chapel from the guesthouse) so called because the workmen who built this stunning chapel gifted them to the Society to show how privileged they felt to do this work for the glory of God. You may know that the chapel was built during the height of the Great Depression when the economy had crashed and people were desperate for jobs to earn money for food to feed their families. The fact that many of the friends of these men were going hungry was not lost on them and the “Workmen’s Windows” are a memorial to their gratefulness to God.
The two windows portray Jesus’ earthly father-figure, St. Joseph on the left and the writer attributed to today’s Gospel lesson, St. Luke on the right. Tradition tells us that Luke was a physician. You can see here in his window that Luke is holding a caduceus, which is an ancient symbol of medicine and healing. In other words, Luke the Physician was a bearer of ‘hope.’ When you’re sick or have a physical ailment, you go to a physician who will diagnose the problem and prescribe a remedy with the hope that you will be made well. How appropriate that Luke would be the subject of one of the “Workmen’s Windows” during a time of great suffering and uncertainty.
If you ever have an occasion to join us for Evening Prayer you’ll note that we brothers always pray from Luke’s gospel, the Magnificat (1), which is a song that Mary the mother of Jesus sings where “the mighty have been cast down and the lowly lifted up; the hungry filled and the rich sent away empty.” She goes on to sing, “He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever”: a message of hope that through Jesus, God has entered into our human condition and is restoring us to the good health that was lost in Eden. As a side note, tradition tells us that Luke was also a painter. Therefore you will see in the medallion at the bottom of the window a picture of Luke painting the portrait of Mary holding the baby Jesus, the budding hope for the people of God.
In today’s gospel we hear Luke’s version of a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount known as the beatitudes. The word beatitude comes from the Latin ‘beatus’ meaning “supreme happiness.” Jesus says “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven.” I don’t know about you, but the message seems bittersweet….for who really feels blessed when they’re hungry, sad, hated, excluded, reviled, or defamed? Do you have experience with any of these ‘maladies?’ I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all experienced one or more of these at times in our lives…either in seasons past or maybe currently. Maybe you’re feeling the symptoms of something on the horizon. Luke tells us that there has been a diagnosis and to be hopeful for Jesus has entered into our condition to restore us to health. At morning prayer we heard in Paul’s letter to the Philippians that Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. (2)
Whatever our state of un-health, Jesus is there, working to make us well if we will only have faith. When a physician prescribes medication, we patients rarely understand the ‘why’ or the ‘how’ the antibiotics are working, or even the time frame in which we will be restored to health. Whatever the problem, give it to Jesus in prayer and then get some rest. We may not feel ‘on the mend’ right away, but healing will happen in God’s time. Be hopeful, for the prognosis is good. Paul says “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”
Jesus is our balm and our hope. Blessed are you!
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