published on July 8, 2014
THE STORY OF OUR GOD, WHO CAME TO BE OUR CARPENTER
written by PAUL JOSEPH C.
If you and I had lived in Palestine as Jesus turned 30 and when, for the first time, declared Himself to Be the Son of God: would we have believed Him?
My dear friends, do we take things for granted? Sometimes we repeat words without thinking, or quote Scriptures in mechanical ways, similar to the manner in which we memorize a phone number, while missing on their meditation.
To meditate on a passage, or a teaching, or a word, or a line, or a parable, is to pour water onto the seed that God Planted in us: that is His Word. If we miss on the daily watering of that seed through our heart's contemplation, how do we expect to grow the tree of true knowledge? And if there is no tree of understanding, how can we expect its fruits to even exist?
Our All Knowing God Came down from Heaven to spend 90% of His Life as an average, common person who was raised by parents, just like the rest of us.
As a child, He was taught how to walk and how to obey. And as any other young man in Palestine, He prayed, ate, rested, cleaned, worked, and went to the Temple.
From what is reported: No miracles took place; No preaching occurred; No mission began.
He, Our Lord, Did nothing for the salvation of humankind during those hidden 30 years in which He Tasted the commonality of all routine.
He Lived every life of every man and woman who will ever be created by the Hand of His Father. He developed a most literal and deep comprehension of the human condition which men were, and still are, to endure inside and outside of themselves in their daily dealings.
He, Son of the Almighty and Who is One with Him, Had to become fully human in order to completely experience and exhaust, in Himself, the understanding which God could not really and truly fulfill, as He – Being Infinite and Perfect Creator – had never endured, in mortal flesh, the constraint of being detached from His Own Self while in the form of a creature.
And so, the Verb's Divinity Was humiliated in the limits and sufferings of a Body Made of dust. Surely, His dust was as pure as the fresh waters of a mountain spring, but ashes they remained as they submitted to that punishment which, born out of Adam's mistake, came from the Mighty Hand of His Own Father.
Before He Transformed a chronic adulterer into a saint, before John the Baptist lost his head, before the Instituting of the Holy Eucharist and before Being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Our Redeemer Was a carpenter.
You, whoever you are, professing to believe and to love the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: can you imagine if Jesus Christ Had not come yet as in 2014? I say 2014 because this is the year we say to live in today, but without Christ's First Coming, which number would this year have?
Imagine if our Redeemer Had not yet come in the form of a Man and, as we wait for His first triumphal arrival as a powerful King leading His people, a carpenter sees you on the street, comes up to you and says "Come, follow me and I will send you out to fish for people". Now, we already know that Our Lord was a carpenter; therefore, shall we instead say that it is a mechanic, or a plumber, or a gardener who comes up to you and says "Come follow me and I will send you out to fish for people".
Would you believe Him? Would I believe Him? Or would we perceive this plumber to be a bit "off", or a little "crazy", or to be an "arrogant blasphemer", or a husband who just lost his sanity over his wife's umpteenth affair?
Would we see, in that average carpenter, the Messiah that those who waited for Him, expected Him to be?
And today, as He's Approaching once again for a final time, will we recognize the One Who will come down from Heaven to be the same Christ Whom we have been imagining Him to be?
My dear friends: when we read of Our Lord and of His various encounters with those mortals who shared the same air He Breathed, do we meditate on the circumstances and meanings of the message in true depth, so as to fulfill our understanding of it?
As we often say to someone who we share a problem with "…put yourself in my shoes", so must we use our heart, senses, intellect and life experience to dive deep to the bottom of that ocean.
First, I must read those lines "abnormally" slowly by often pausing as to allow all the words, in my sight, to sink into my heart.
Then, depending on the chapter being read, I must put myself in the shoes of each party present therein; if the story tells of Jesus, His disciples and the pharisees, I must read the same chapter three times: first, from the point of view of the disciples; then, from the one of the pharisees and lastly, from the point of view of the Lord.
I must fill in all details of the time and place of occurrence along with their noises, landscapes, temperature, and circumstances. I must see with their eyes, hear with their ears and live in their bodies. I must open my heart and mind to what is happening, just as I do in my everyday life. And once I am finished, I shall remain silent for a minute to let all this rest in me.
Why did I mention such method?
Because, brothers and sisters, we must care for what happens inside of that story because, shall we fail to do so, that chapter will only remain a merely objective reportage of facts by which we remain coldly unaffected.
What makes the difference between reading a New York Times article, reporting of a man winning 50 million dollars, and reliving the entire story in all its details, as it was written by the lottery winner himself? The difference is that we live that man's story through his own words as, once again, it comes to life in us.
Therefore, how can we hope to know Christ, if the scenarios given in Scriptures are not relived – brought back to life– by you and by me?
We cannot only read of Him, but rather we must become united with Him as we can now truly see Him, hear Him, touch Him, love Him; and as His Cry will also become our cry, we know that it is He Who Is touching us, as we allowed Him to come alive within our hearts, minds and souls.
This, my dear friends, is called "Prayer with the Heart".
The Lord of Lords – Whom is consubstantial with the Father through Whom all things were made – Was a carpenter.
Let me ask you this: Have you ever stopped in the middle of a prayer in which little of your heart's love was poured, to visualize the workshop where this Man, Whom we worship in this very now, Worked every day? Was it a large or a small space? And what did He Build out of wood? Think of the smell of sawdust that accompanied all His Holy thoughts while precisely cutting some boards or logs. Try and picture those old and rough stone walls so typical of first century Palestine. Imagine how exhausting it must have been, to Our Lord, when he would lift some heavy wood chests in the excruciating heat of a summer day. Wouldn't you love to picture yourself walking towards Him and hand Him a bottle of cold water? Think of His radiant smile…
Usually, the closer we are to a person, the more time we spend together in their intimate space: we visit them at home, we know their parents, we assist them when they're sick, and we know where they work.
My dear friend, wouldn't you want to know the place where Our Lord spent a third of His adulthood? After all, He did seem to be affected by His profession when He Said "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"
For eight hours each day, He would cut the wood of Cedars, of Fig Trees, of Oaks, and of Pine Trees.
Do we realize what the Son of God did until the age of 30 from Monday to Friday? He simply Worked to provide for Himself and His Beloved Mother, while the remaining income would be donated to the needy.
The wood from which He would Make the most perfect tables and chairs came from the Oaks that His Father Created through Him. He Knew everything of that wood which, upon being touched by the Master's Perfect hands, would be perceived in all its possible details and in all their aspects.
No miracles were performed in order to carve a bowl out of Fig Tree wood: He Worked just like any other man, His job was just like any other job and His dealings with people were just like all other people's dealings among themselves.
Indeed, not having yet revealed His True Self to anyone outside His home, allowed Him to be treated in the same way the average man was treated: this meant that He humanly Experienced all those people who, for the sake of being pretentious, would complain nine times over about the irrelevant details of a table that He Had just Finished.
Or the rich woman who, after having commissioned the building of a side-table on which he patiently spent 200 hours of work, pretended not to have the money to pay Him. What about those times when He Had to work under the dim light of a few candles because having to finish assembling the bed for a newly wedded couple who, unknowingly, will be sleeping in what was made by the hands of the Only Begotten Son of God, Who we now adore in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar?
Can you imagine if you could now own that beautiful chair He Made on February 12, 27 AD?
My dear friends, when the rich greedy woman who did not pay Him, or when the man who complained 11 times for the most useless detail, or when the couple who returned the frame and demanded a refund, or when the stressed owner of that large winery looked down at Him, Our Lord Was always and only patient, kind, generous, gentle, punctual, professional. He never Raised His voice nor did He ever complain about those clients, or refused to give those refunds, or protested against those tax collectors. Never.
And yet, He Knew all things, thoughts and hearts.
Isn't this mind-boggling?
You, as well as I, cannot even begin to imagine the virtuousness of this carpenter's patience due to our own excelling at complaint and wickedness.
Isn't it true that the demands those clients made – often unreasonably – are just the same of yours and mine?
Don't we see in their deeds our very own? Think of how many splinters entered The Lord's skin while moving the heavy tables for His clients.
We often complain to God as our exceeding and selfish expectations are not met and yet, we forget to thank Him for all the unseen, hard work that He Does for each one of us, every single day.
Aren't the often absurd requests, and unreasonable complaints of our own making, just like those splinters wounding Christ's Fingers?
This extraordinary Man Endures and Loves. This Man Is always patient and Is only kind.
This is Our Carpenter, Who Promised to build our homes in the Heavens.
Cedars, Pine Trees, Oaks, Olive Trees, Cherry Trees: our Lord's Hands Worked on several kinds of wood and Knew each one by their unique texture in the same way He Works on each one of us by knowing the uniqueness of every child of His.
From the smell of that lumber's raw material, He could detect which specie of plant it came from, while through His physical labor, He would Turn 30 logs into 30 wooden boards for a tax collector's home floor. What is even more extraordinary is that the taxman, a recurring client who held great appreciation in the young Man's talent, never would have imagined in his wildest dreams that his carpenter Was the One Who Came to Save him.
Don't you think that for the Son of God to sculpt the wood of a tree He Himself Created must have been a most humbling act and yet, only one of many others?
This carpenter was God and yet: He Kept this secret hidden from that same world which He Came to Save. Thirty long years of silence for three years of Teachings.
How Was this possible?
Surely, we comfortable Christians of the last generation, would immediately, correctly and yet, robotically answer: "Well, He's God". And, while this is true, do we spend some time to meditate on this mystifying duel Perfection of Divinity and Humanity?
Can we imagine how tempting it must have been when injustices were witnessed by Him on the streets of Jerusalem? How frustrating it must have been to watch those powerful hypocrites, dressed in sacred garments, preach in self-righteousness while Our Lord could read their every thought? Can we understand this?
If you or me were to be in His place, I assure you that such mystery would have escaped us in no time: at the age of two we would have multiplied a poor child's only toy; at the age of seven, we would have not hesitated to heal our best friend's fractured ankle; and at the age of nineteen we would undoubtedly have healed a large group of dying lepers upon which our eyes had laid their piety. You might ask 'Why didn't God heal those people? Isn't this unfair?'
In our sophisticated human standards, surely I can agree with you, but remember: we don't understand all things.
You and I, in the name of love for one another, equality, tolerance, human dignity and human rights would have prematurely unsealed the Divinity within by performing miracles in total disobedience of God.
Unlike us, the Child God and the Adult God never Disobeyed and, although His Most Loving Heart only Desired to do good for others, He first and foremost Obeyed the Will of His Father.
Have you ever thought of the interior sufferings carried within Him when, on a Monday afternoon at the age of twenty-six, He Came across a thousand starving people in the fields outside Jericho? Here is the Young Jesus Christ, Whose Own Heart's Desire is to multiply one loaf of bread into one thousand of them and yet: this Man-God must Suffer for both the suffering of those starving people who, in His Mind, He Called children (as He fully Remembered Creating) and for the suffering caused by the most rigorous self-forbiddance (from doing what only He Could Do) as in total submission to His Father's Holy Will.
Jesus Christ Suffers because He is Love.
He silently and joyfully Suffered in those thirty long years, as He Found Himself in the midst of a humanity incapable of understanding His Depths.
He Found Himself to be in between the Father Above – Who Is the One He Obeys and the One Establishing the timing under which the Son patiently Carried a silent cross of suffering and in the joy of such suffering– and the surrounding humanity that He so much Loved and Longed to Redeem. And this unknown Hero, Who Was Born inside a stinky and cold manger, Desired a Most Painful and Perfect Sacrifice of a death suspended in between Heaven and Earth.
Thirty Long years…
The Second Person of the Holy Trinity Worked for many years as any other man worked for his own survival and the one of his loved ones. And since the young Jesus learned carpentry from His father Joseph, it was established that such should be His job.
The noises of cutting, hammering, assembling and sanding produced in His shop would be the daily soundtrack of His Mother's next door kitchen, where She so lovingly Prepared the food for Her Son and for those children who loved visiting and playing with the always cheerful Lord.
My dear friend: have you ever stopped to think that before a cross became the symbol of billions of faithful, before Rome built the new temple, before Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, and before Pope Pius VII was kidnapped by Napoleon this unknown Savior hammered nails into wood in order to survive in the same way some Roman soldiers would hammer nails into Him in order to kill Him?
That wood He so sublimely Worked with His Sacred Hands, will later become part of His condemnation; the large nails He Used to assemble many dining tables, will be driven into His Hands and Feet as to make Him the Meal for the ones gathering around those tables; the same hammering He Did so lovingly for a dozen thousand times in order to create, will be hatefully done unto Him through a few hammer strikes in order to destroy Love; the joy of others, caused by the grace He Poured into His craft, was repaid by the misery of disgraceful men and women who rejoiced in wickedness.
And the carrying of wooden shelves He Did in His shop became the carrying of a cross as heavy as all the sins in the world.