Fr. Jeff, you like to look around while you are on the altar.
The little boy is right. Our sanctuary is surrounded by pews on three sides. Part of my routine is to look at the entire church gathered during the Introductory Rites. As I see different people, I formulate prayer intentions for each of them.
I came across James Tissot’s What Our Lord Saw from the Cross before I presided over the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. Gazing at the image, I was transported to Your perspective. I was looking through Your eyes at Your people for whom You suffered.
Standing at the altar on Good Friday, the painting came to mind again. This time, I understood that You were teaching me the meaning of priesthood. I watched as people came to venerate the Cross. I knew their pains, their struggles, and their weaknesses. I knew the faith of their children and the faith of their parents. They give me insights into their hopes and their prayer intentions. I knew of their repentance and their desire for conversion. Most of all, I knew of their love for You.
There in the Sanctuary and looking out, I knew that I was standing in Your place and seeing
What Our Lord Saw from the Cross.
James Tissot (French, 1836–1902). What Our Lord Saw from the Cross, 1886–94. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray-green wove paper, 9 3/4 x 9 1/6 in. (24.8 x 23 cm). Brooklyn Museum.