9. The Eight Beatitude

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matt. 5:10. (King James Version)

The first window is a call to worship and this last window is a call to service.

The experience of worship is preparation for living. It gives the insight and the will to put one's beliefs into practice. Serving others gives integrity to faith. Seeing Jesus on the cross reminds us of his words, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matt. 16:24)

This painting emphasized the humanity of Jesus. Here we see him as a robust, vigorous man with a fine physique. He has well-developed muscular arms, shoulders and chest. He is no weakling and he is not submissive. His head is erect and his whole bearing expresses resistance and strength. In these moments of agony one sees the hand of God supporting him, and his last words come to mind: "Father, into they hands I commit my spirit." (Luke 23:46)

There is a decided contrast between this portrayal of Jesus and the figure of Christ in the third window. When we think of his humility, his concern for the poor, his thoughts of turning the other cheek, loving one's enemies and returning good for evil, we think of a gentle person. But in his gentleness there is also strength. To stand unwavering for the truths he stood for required great physical stamina as well as inner commitment to God. Power held in restraint is power of the highest order, for then the possession of strength is the power to control that strength. It takes strength to be gentle.

This emphasis on his humanity reassures us that he faced life as we must face it. He was not exempt from the baffling circumstances, the temptations and the tragedies we experience. Here on the cross is a man who is struck down and killed in the prime of life. No tragedy is greater than this. His answer to this mystery is found in his words: "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends . . . Love one another." (John 15:13, 17)


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