March 29, 2021
In 1883, an architect named Antoni Gaudi took over the design of a cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. A Roman Catholic, he had a vision for an extraordinary offering to God, and until his death in 1926, when he was hit by a bus, he saw his work as a sacrifice, made in love to the God he saw everywhere, especially in nature, and made in love to humanity, as the door above depicts. When he died, the project was only one quarter completed. Today it stands as the “almost” finished Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of the Holy Family, in Barcelona. Its spiraling towers can be spotted from almost anywhere in the city.
Gaudi lived out the true meaning of the word “sacrifice,” which is “to make holy.” Stepping in to the cathedral, holiness overwhelmed me, holiness, wonder, and awe interwoven through each design and motif and material. What would compel such a vision and such dedication? Faith. Surely Gaudi had faith, a certain conviction, that God had called him to the project and surely Gaudi believed that one day, far beyond his own passing, this gift would be complete. What sets Gaudi apart from so many believers—by whatever name we call our Divinity—is not simply placing our faith in God, but also loving God. It is not that hard to believe in something or someone; it requires much more to love something or someone.
On this Monday of Holy Week, I remember how Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem after he came down the mountain where he had just shown his divine nature to his friends. I have no doubt that Jesus knew exactly what was awaiting him. He was taking the great step of metanoia, turning away from what he loved and knew and turning to Abba. He placed his faith in the very Source of His Being, of which he was/is a part, and trusted that Source with its outcome. But he didn’t do so out of blind allegiance, or fear, or because of everything his mother and father had taught him as a Jew. He did so out of love. He did so as sacrifice, making holiness a possibility for us all because of his faith. Love followed faith.
What Antoni Gaudi and Jesus Christ both did, in different ways, were acts of love following faith–for us–far beyond their own passings. Gaudi believed that his sacrificial gift would lead us to cast our vision up toward God and recognize God everywhere, and Jesus Christ trusted that his sacrificial gift would bring restoration to a broken relationship. I pause to wonder this Monday if my faith also leads to sacrificial love. Otherwise, what is the point? Blessings ~ Rosemary