The Eyes of the Icon

In June 1998, when I went on my first trip to Medjugorje, I saw the striking Icon of the Resurrection in the Chapel of the Cenacolo. This strange and beautiful mural is above the tabernacle there. Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, is pulling Adam and Eve out of their tombs of death. Their chains have been broken by the hammer blows and the nails driven into the body of Christ. On the left side of the Icon, the Old Testament is represented by the prophet John the Baptist, King David and King Solomon. On the right side of the Icon are the Apostles and a young man, representative of the many young men who died in the arms of Christ. This young man, Nicolas, converted to Christ before his body gave out under the weight of his own cross of Aids. The Icon captivated our small group while we heard the testimonies of two young men who had overcome their own drug addition with the help of God and Sister Elvira's Cenacolo program. The stories of the young men were fascinating but it was the Eyes of the Icon that transfixed me.

Christ seemed to look at me questioning, "Are you going to trust Me? Are you going to trust me with your life? Are you going to trust Me with everything and follow Me?" The others leave the Chapel but I stay on. I have to leave soon when our cab comes for us, but I return again and again, year after year. Oh, I make the excuse that I go back to Cenacolo to buy a few things there in the gift shop to help the young lads out. I do enjoy their music and always purchase a CD or two. But, when no one is looking, I go back to the Chapel and stare at the Icon. Our Lord is present within the tabernacle and I am not alone. He is also present in some strange way in the eyes of the Icon. It is a mystery. He does not speak, but this is not a passive Christ, but an active One, pulling Adam and Eve out of their death grave of sin in the first moments after His sacrifice has been consummated. He does for them what they could not do for themselves. As He raised Lazarus from his tomb in Bethany so does He raises the dead from their tombs in eternity.

Christ beckons with His eyes. I don't know if I can trust this strange Man from Galilee. I want more information. When I ask Him where He is going, He responds, "Come and see."

I am afraid. He might send me to the darkest parts of the Congo, or worse yet, He might return me to my own town and make me bear witness to my neighbors .I would rather stay here. It is quiet and prayerful, here in the Chapel with the Icon. It is safe to stay here in the village of Medjugorje. I want to stay, but I know I must leave. I must leave because I must take Christ with me. I must take Him out of the Icon and back to the world.

Let's stay here awhile longer. We won't call it procrastination; we will call it meditation.

Jesus will have none of that. I am on the hook. I have to come closer to the Icon. Something or Someone draws me closer. He is pulling me into the boat with His net. I struggle and cry out that I am not worthy. He says, "I know, but I picked you anyway. Come here and keep me company. I will show you Resurrection!"

We are fish in the bottom of the boat, gasping for oxygen, wanting to go back to our old, comfortable ways of living. We knew those waters, but this boat we do not know and it is painful. The Master Fisherman lets us die. We die to our old selves and for a time, everything seems black. Maybe this is the end.

Then, a transformation takes place. We begin to live again for the Master and through the Master. He has brought us back. But why? Why should He bring us back to new life? It is His love. It is His Sacred Heart, where first His Mother was conceived, eons before she conceived Him. This is why He brings us back. Total Love cannot die even if It is nailed on a cross. We fish have changed; we are not the same. What has happened? Christ has happened. Christ has come into us with full Communion. We are fully alive, fully resurrected, but what will our lives be like now?

Here begins the mystery of Jesus Christ. Jesus calls us to come closer, to look into His eyes of love in the Icon and to see through His eyes another world that is within our grasp. What is this other world like? It is a world where prayer and fasting stop wars. Where people love each other and help each other, knowing that kindness shown to a stranger is a return of kindness to God, our Creator. It is a world where people accept martyrdom rather than deny Him. It is the Kingdom of God.

I am still afraid, but Christ has caught me in His net. He has grasped me by His nail-scarred hands and is pulling me into the boat. He is pulling me through the Icon to His side of reality, to the really Real. The fish has given up struggling.

David J. Sheehan

Crowley, Texas

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