You Pharisees and teachers are nothing but show-offs, and you're in for trouble! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the tombs of good people. And you claim that you would not have taken part with your ancestors in killing the prophets. But you prove that you really are the relatives of the ones who killed the prophets. (Matthew 23:29-31 CEVUK)
A few years ago, on a visit to Rome I went to the main Ignation church. Ignatius and his order have helped me immensely in growing as a follower of Jesus. His passion for imagining ourselves in a story from Jesus’ life when we pray has been transformational for me.
After 15 minutes in the church I felt claustrophobic and had to escape. The church was filled with small chapels with monuments to cardinals and bishops, paid for by rich patrons. It was so outside the spirit of humility of Ignatius.
The rich and powerful create the monuments in their own image. Jesus wasn’t a big fan of monuments but indicated that one thing monuments do is remind us of our complicity and responsibility for actions taken by previous generations.
Monuments are part of our history – both the good and bad. As humans, we like to point to legacy in many forms, but it can come back to bite us. Just as we benefit from the good fruit of the actions of our predecessors, perhaps we have responsibility as Canadians for the bad.
A Prayer for Today
Loving Father, you warned us about creating carved images that might distract from our focus on you and your heart’s desire for us as human beings. Your Son didn’t want monuments to his life, even at the Transfiguration. Grant us wisdom to celebrate the good of our past and responsibly serve those who have been broken by it … for Jesus’ sake