We visited the St John Paul II Shrine in DC today. It is interesting and beautiful. Chapel murals are stunning. Smaller chapel has all 5 Luminous Mysteries (Jesus’ Baptism, Wedding at Cana, Jesus’ Public Ministry, Transfiguration, and Institution of Holy Eucharist) in mosaics, with smaller New Testament scenes above the large ones. The docent said that the artist did not name the smaller scenes, and left it up to viewers’ interpretations.
Anyway, this one caught my eye — it is right above a larger one of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan. The docent was fairly sure it was the Prodigal Son — Prodigal is in the home with their Father, with the familial ring on his finger, and elder son is choosing to walk away in the darkness.
I am not so sure. I think it might be almost- Apostle/Bishop Judas walking away during the Last Supper. Jesus is in the Upper Room with Simon Peter — wearing the ring of papal authority, yet he’s soon- to- be- betrayer — and Judas stomps off, destined for the potters’ field — and the deep sorrow of Jesus and Peter is evident. “Friend, you will betray me with a kiss? And, Peter, after you betray and then repent, you must love my lambs, and behold my sorrow over those who choose to leave.” (Our Lord Jesus present in time and also in the Eternal Moment — can we ever wonder enough about that?!)
I immediately thought about our Church in these days — priests (and us laypersons!) sorrowfully witnessing our brothers and sisters walk away in disgust (perhaps for just a time, and times, and half a time), yet we are also struggling with their own betrayals. I wish I could find a photo of the Baptism just below. St John with awe beholding Jesus submitting to baptism, with an angel with an equally awed look holding a towel for him.
I bet there’s a whole lot connecting these two images with the terrible headlines that keep pouring in: Divine Mercy offered to the betrayals, a Loving Father and Sacrificial Redeemer-Shepherd who has given us the awe-full gift of Free Will, and wow that angel — he’s part of it too. The loving Lord won’t force us into the water, he won’t tie us up as a prisoner in the house, won’t give up on us until we irrevocably and totally reject Him.