Have you ever looked at the stained glass windows of a Church from the outside? They look rather ugly and uninteresting; some may wonder what the windows depict but most go about their way without considering the windows in much detail simply because there isn't much detail to be seen! From the outside vantage point, the stained glass windows look dark and imposing and even ugly!
Now, regard the stained glass windows as pre-figuring the Church itself. When having an outside vantage point, people fail to see the beauty within the Church. In fact, the Church may appear overly imposing, dark, unfriendly, cold, uncaring, certainly out of step with the outside world's point of view. The windows certainly don't look very special from the outside perspective! The Church opens its wide "portal" doors in hopes of attracting those who get a glimmer of its beauty (from the stained glass windows -figuratively and literally). It attracts the curious, the interested, and the open.
When someone steps inside the Church - both figuratively and literally - he or she sees the beauty of the stained glass windows for the very first time - the light streams through them re-creating them. The windows look incredibly different from the inside than they did from the outside. While light may surround the outside of the windows, it fails to expose the true beauty of the windows. A person with new faith will see a newness and a new-found beauty; they begin to appreciate the depth of the light within the Church. One never fully appreciates the Church's beauty when remaining on the outside looking in; it's only from the inside can we wonder in awe at God's truth and creation.
Until we have the opportunity to see the stained glass from the inside - where the light is allowed to re-create the windows - where the light underscores the imagery and reality of the Church, we fail to see and seek truth. When we remain on the outside, we will only see the "window's" flaws, the cracks or chinks in the windows, the need for tuckpointing, it's broken panes. But when inside the Church, we see things never before possible; we see depth, beauty, variety of colors (gifts), importance, significance, intensity, and necessity. It's from the inside that we can be awed by the stained glass; it's only from the inside that we can fall in love with the stained glass imagery and vibrancy. (sacraments, grace, moral and spiritual teachings, liturgical life, formation). We are all invited in to stay and experience the beauty and richness of the Stained Glass (the Church).
Think of this reflection the next time you go to Mass; study your Church's stained glass windows, regard them as God's invite to you to deepen your relationship with Him. He wants us all to grow in our faith, to renew ourselves, to unite ourselves to the Church. We are asked to draw in others as well. May we all be refined, renewed, re-stored to the Will of God.
Much of this reflection came from a homily I heard this past weekend; I thought you all may enjoy it as much as I did - just wanted to share it with you.
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