A Catholic Monthly Magazine

September in Stained Glass

By Glen McCullough

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Following the Gospel readings each day in September, especially during the first few days, reveals a busy Jesus. On the 1st he healed Peter’s mother-in-law. On the 2nd he was forced by the press of the enthusiastic crowd to step into Peter’s boat and preach from there. That scene is shown beautifully in this window [1] from Sacred Heart church, Mosman, Sydney.

He then rewarded the fishermen with a huge catch of fish, shown in this window [2] from 1st Presbyterian Church, Invercargill. Jesus then invited Peter to become a fisher of men and follow him.

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The whole incident gives much food for thought. Can we crowd Jesus? Do we bombard Him with requests for action? He rewarded Peter for the use of his boat by giving them a huge catch of fish, without being asked, because Jesus knew that they needed it. Surely Jesus knows what we need and will provide it?

On the 4th, the Pharisees took Jesus to task because He was feeding his disciples corn in the cornfield on the Sabbath. This window [3] from St Paul’s Cathedral, Dunedin, shows clearly the malevolence of the crowd.

Jesus healed a deaf man on the 5th, then on the 13th, we have the Roman centurion asking Jesus to heal his son. More importantly, he told Jesus that he didn’t need to visit his ill son to cure him – all he had to do was say the word and it would be done.The scene is shown in this window [4] from St Mary Abbots church, Kensington, London. The centurion was a man in authority, and he recognised that Jesus also had authority, and his faith was rewarded by his son being healed at that moment. Have you that sort of faith?

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On the 15th we remember Our Lady of Sorrows. The Gospel reading records Our Lady being at the foot of the Cross, and points to her greatest sorrow. But the account also has Jesus telling John that he should look after Our Lady as his mother, which has a significance far beyond simply pointing to her sorrow. The window over the page [5] from St Barnabas, Fendalton, Christchurch, shows John doing as Christ commanded, and taking Our Lady into his home. Have you a place for Mary in your home and, more importantly, in your heart?

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The following day, the 16th, we see Luke’s account of the woman with a bad reputation washing Jesus’ feet with her hair and anointing them with perfume. Jesus contrasted the arrogance of Simon the Pharisee, who had invited Jesus into his house but had neither washed his feet or anointed him with oil, with the attitude of the woman, who had wept over her sinfulness. He forgave the woman her sins. This rather dark window below [6] from St Stephen’s Uniting Church in the Sydney CBD nevertheless shows the scene beautifully. It raises the question - Have you ever wept over your sinfulness?

There is a record in the other three  Gospels of a woman anointing Jesus with oil. This account is quite different – Martha is serving the disciples and her sister Mary is anointing Jesus. The complaint is that it is a waste of very expensive perfume, which Jesus refutes by pointing out that she was preparing him for burial. 

The Gospel on the 18th features the Parable of the Sower, which should be familiar to all of us. This window [7] in St John’s Cathedral, Parramatta, NSW has all the elements – stony ground, good soil, thorns, birds pecking the seeds.

On the 19th and 27th Jesus tells us to come to Him like little children. I take that to mean we need to have humility in our faith, that we should approach Jesus with openness and simplicity. How do you see it? I think this window [8] from the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, Galway, Ireland, (photo by my sister Sharon) expresses the theme beautifully.

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