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 | By Father Andy Laframboise

God’s Masterpiece

I’m no artist. I’m well below average even when it comes to stick figures, but I can appreciate a beautiful work of art like many others.

Great art has a way of raising up our hearts and minds to the contemplation of greater things. For this reason, churches often have beautiful stained glass, paintings, or statues that help raise the heart and mind to God. Pope Francis once referred to marriage as “God’s masterpiece.” It is the highpoint of his creative masterpiece at the dawn of the world, creating man and woman in his own image and seeing that it was “very good.” In the Greek version of the Old Testament, the word for “good,” kalos, could also be translated as “beautiful.” So, the Lord looked at the creation of man and woman and saw that it was “very beautiful.” The Lord performs his first sign at the wedding feast of Cana, another way God is showing the masterpiece of the family. I love this image because it is a reminder that marriage is not something devoid of content, waiting to be defined by a state or by an individual as if it were a blank canvas, but that marriage signifies something. It is God’s masterpiece. It is him putting something on canvas that is in his mind.

There is a plan for marriage from the foundation of the world. Marriage is the only one of the seven sacraments to preexist the coming of Christ in the flesh. Jesus then raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament when entered into by two baptized persons. John Paul II called it the “primordial sacrament,” (TOB 96:1), meaning that it is God’s sign in the world from the beginning of his plan for the world. It is an icon of the inner life of God, that God is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Marriage is also the sign expressing God’s plan for the world to be in union with his people. This is the mystery of the union of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church, the Bride.

Do you think of your marriage as a masterpiece of God? Do you know God has a plan for your marriage? And that this plan is beautiful? If many of us were to look over the shoulder of a painter taking his brush to canvas, we would not always know how each stroke makes sense. But the artist knows what he is creating.

Families experience many things that are hard to endure, that do not always make sense or seem clear. “Lord, why this illness? Why this trial? Why is this happening?” I’m sure many of you are asking questions like these to the Lord in the midst of your family life. The disciples thought something similar. How could the death of Jesus be part of the plan of God? How does this brush stroke make any sense at all? Men and women have a habit of taking the paint brush and ruining the painting of their lives through their sin, but the Father is so gifted that he can take the brush back and bring it all together. Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, his death and Resurrection, is the master stroke of the Father. What came before and what would come afterward all make sense in light of this mystery.

Mother Teresa used to say she was a “pencil in the hands of Jesus.” Allow yourself to be a paintbrush in the hands of Jesus. He can paint something beautiful in your family. Do you see your marriage as a masterpiece? What are the beautiful things God has done in your family and through your family? Has there ever been a brush stroke that did not make sense at the time, but afterward you realized how it fit into God’s plan to bless you? Take these questions to Jesus in prayer and ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you into the truth about your marriage and family. See what God sees.

Father Andy Laframboise is pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Reese and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Vassar, and director of priestly vocations. He holds a licentiate in Sacred Theology in Marriage and Family Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.