Today in history, Laszlo Toth, a 33-year-old Australian geologist, slipped into St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome as part of the crowd attending the Whitsunday Mass. As the faithful waited for the Pope’s blessing, Toth dashed past the guards, vaulted a marble balustrade, and attacked Michelangelo’s Vatican Pieta with a sledgehammer, shouting “I am Jesus Christ!” With fifthteen blows (one for each minute of his fame), he removed the Virgin’s arm at the elbow, knocked off a chunk of her nose, and chipped one of her eyelids.
This bit of news reminds me that all of us, at one time or another, wants to be our own personal Jesus. Not many of us would be crazed enough to attempt to destroy a priceless piece of art. Or would we?
I wonder what it means when we try to run our own lives, to live as if we are the ones in charge? What damage do we do to ourselves and others, when we try to manage and control life, hoping that the world will bow to our will. I don’t know about you, but when I have tried to run my own life, the results have not been that good. I have often chiseled and hammered away at the people and things that were meant to bring glory and beauty to my life. Too many times I’ve tried to be my own personal Jesus.
When God created us, he did create a work of art. The apostle Paul, commented that we are God’s “workmanship.” The Greek word is “poiema,” which can be translated “work of art.”
The wonder of Michaelangelo’s Vatican Pieta is that no matter how chiseled and damaged, it remains a priceless piece of art. In the eyes of the world, the damaged caused by Laszlo Toth, has not diminished the Pieta’s beauty.
Fortunately for us, the damage we cause ourselves doesn’t change the way God sees us. We are still His work of art!