A crown he is entitled to wear,
Theodore Roosevelt wearing ornate allegorical crown of Panama Canal, "the greatest achievement for trade in modern times.
Color lithograph by Gillam,
Published 4 June 1904
© Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

A crown he is entitled to wear,
Theodore Roosevelt wearing ornate allegorical crown of Panama Canal, "the greatest achievement for trade in modern times.
Color lithograph by Gillam,
Published 4 June 1904
© Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Gospel of 1 October 2022

The seventy-two came back rejoicing

Luke 10:17-24

The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’

It was then that, filled with joy by the Holy Spirit, he said:

‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’

Then turning to his disciples he spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’

Reflection on the lithograph

Society around us values achievement. It is what we are trained for from a very young age: to study, work hard and achieve in whatever career path we have chosen. In fact when we achieve something worthwhile, we do experience a deep satisfaction and joy. At the beginning of today’s Gospel reading, we read that the disciples are the same: full of joy at having achieved something worthwhile.

Our artwork depicts Theodore Roosevelt wearing an ornate allegorical crown of the Panama Canal inscribed with the words ‘the greatest achievement for trade in modern times’. It was indeed a massive human achievement. The idea of creating a water passage across the isthmus of Panama to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans dates back already to at least the 1500’s. France was the first country to attempt the task. Led by Count Ferdinand de Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal in Egypt, construction started in the 1880’s. But soon the task was seen as too monumental and in 1888 funding for the project was pulled. The United States purchased the French assets in the canal zone for $40 million in 1902 and the project was re-started. The Panama Canal officially opened finally on 15 August 1914, although the planned lavish opening ceremony was downgraded because of the outbreak of World War I. Completed at a cost of more than $350 million, it was the most expensive construction project in U.S. history to that point.

The achievement of building the Panama canal was indeed a wonderful human achievement… But what are the achievements that we offer to God? What are each of us achieving for God?

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