SOMETIMES artists use a novel way of signing their pictures. Instead of painting their names in the corner as is usually done, they make one of the figures in the picture look like themselves. One great artist was painting his masterpiece. He wanted this to be the greatest of all his works. It was called " The Descent from the Cross." It showed the dead body of Christ being taken down from the cross. The nails were being pulled out of Christ's hands and feet, just before His body was placed in the arms of His Mother. By way of signing the picture, the artist painted himself as one of the men who were taking Christ down. He painted himself as the man who was drawing the nails out of Christ's hands. "That is where I would most like to have been," he said.
That is one story. Here is another which teaches the same lesson in a different way. The crucifix in the parish church needed to be cleaned and repaired. In order that the work could be done well the statue of the body of Christ had to be taken off the cross. When the work was done it had to be put back on the cross, and the nails would have to be driven again through the hands and feet of the statue. One of the workmen was just ready to drive the nails when he stopped. "I just cannot bring myself to do it," he said.
We are fast approaching the time when the Church reminds us of the death and suffering of Christ. It is a time when we are each called upon to paint a picture of the Passion and death of Christ. This picture is to be our masterpiece. Instead of signing the picture, we are to paint ourselves into it. Where will you put yourself? Do you place yourself among those who by their sins crucify again to themselves the Son of God? Will you have to place yourself among those who stood beneath the cross shouting insults at the dying Christ? Would you paint yourself as one of the executioners who are driving the nails? Or as Judas who betrayed Him? By our sins we were all on Calvary and made Christ suffer. For our greed, His hands were nailed wide open. For our laziness, He bore the heavy cross. For our sins of the tongue He was parched with thirst.
During this week, then, everyone must make up his mind that when you paint your masterpiece of the Crucifixion, you will not stand among the sinners who hurt Him, but among those who tried to ease His pain. By your special penance this week, your special prayers and efforts, you may be able to place yourself among those who are drawing the nails out of Christ's hands and feet, instead of among those who are driving them in. Put
yourself into the picture.
- Heirs of the Kingdom, Imprimatur 1949 -