Use God-given creativity to love like Jesus

By FR. MATTHEW LANGAGER, Parochial Vicar, 

St. Mary’s, Our Lady of Lourdes and Holy Family parishes. 

In 1512, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (commonly known as Michelangelo) completed the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. One of his most noteworthy paintings was the creation of Adam. Many of us would recognize this if we saw it. It is a depiction of God as an old bearded man giving life to his creation through the effortless reaching out with his outstretched arm and extended index finger as it nearly touches the index finger of Adam, as if this were the spark which ignited his creation. Almost 90 years later, another famous artist would mimic this creative position of God but in quite a different context. That artist was Michelangelo Caravaggio (referred to simply as Caravaggio).

This outstretched arm was not of God the Father, but of God the Son as he stands, pointing his index finger in the direction of St. Matthew while he sits, rather gloomily, and stares at the coins on the tax collector’s table. This painting is known as “The Calling of St. Matthew.” Caravaggio catches the moment St. Matthew realizes that in order to follow Jesus he is going to have to give up the coins sitting in front of him. St. Matthew listens to the voice of Jesus calling him to conversion and in this way Jesus recreates Matthew into the man he is called to be. St. Matthew would later go on to create one of the Gospels (with the help of the Holy Spirit of course), through which we come to know the creator.

Because we have been made in the image and likeness of our creator, we have the ability to be creative. Just as God in his love created us and then recreated us the Christ’s death and resurrection, so too, we are to mimic God. We are called to be creative with our love. Creativity does not simply manifest itself in great works of art by talented artists such as Michelangelo and Caravaggio. But creativity can, and should, manifest itself through our love.

One explicit example that creativity is manifested through love is in the varying ways in which a man proposes to his girlfriend. The man is so excited to propose that his creative mind begins to inquire about different ways he can express the love he has for his girlfriend. He wants her to know that there is not a shadow of doubt that he loves her.

Jesus did this for us by dying for us on the cross and he continually bestows graces upon us. There is not a doubt that God loves us.

Too often does our love diminish and our energy to be creative fade. Many times we take our relationships for granted and we become complacent with our loved ones. We forget to be energetic, enthusiastic and creative about the love we have for them. If this sounds familiar about any of your relationships, especially your relationship with Jesus, then allow Jesus to recreate the love you have for him and for others. Ask him to show you how you can express you love creatively.

This will not be easy. Having a creative love means expending time and energy on your relationships. Being creative means revealing your strengths and shortfalls. Be prepared to fall, be prepared for rejection. But his is OK. Jesus fell three time while he carried his cross and he was rejected by his own people. Yet he continued to let his love for us be manifested through his sufferings; the fruit of this was our salvation.

Be determined, like Jesus, to love creatively through all adversity and your love will bear fruit also.