Bishop's Blog / Christ at the Center

By Joseph Strickland
Saturday, September 21, 2013

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The Last Judgement as depicted by Michaelangelo in the Sistine Chapel places Jesus Christ af the very center of the fresco which covers the entire wall.  As I have just returned from Rome and my experience of studying with new bishops from around the world this image seems to capture the essence of what we were reminded of in our seminar.  This famous image depicts Christ at the end of time dividing the saved from the damned.  There are of course many striking elements of this fresco but one that is quite significant is that Michaelangelo depicts the book of the damned as a volume which is quite large while the book of the saved might be described as pocket sized.  This probably says a lot about the artists own perspective and struggles especially as we note that this was painted toward the end of his life.  The significant difference in the size of these symbolic books seems to be something that Pope Francis is trying to address in a recently released interview.  As the Bishop of Rome and thus the leader of the Roman Catholic Church today Pope Francis is urging us not to be satisfied with the small volume of those who are ultimately saved and share eternity with God.  The Holy Father is urging us to share and live the good news of Jesus Christ.  He urges us to rely on God's mercy as we seek the strength of His grace to guide us away from sin and damnation.

Christ at the center, this seems to summarize well the message of Pope Francis.  When we place Christ at the center His mercy heals us, His life inspires us and His grace guides us to our true fulfillment.  Let us resolve to do our daily best to place Christ at the center of all that we do.

Joseph Strickland

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland was named the fourth bishop of Tyler in September of 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to being named bishop, he served a number of roles in the diocese, including vicar general, judicial vicar, and pastor of the Cathedral parish. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985.
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