There’s a lovely old story out of Copenhagen about the statue of Christ in the fairy-tale city’s Cathedral. Executed early in the 19th century by the renowned Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen, it depicted a Christ of awesome power and regal presence. The sculptor boasted that he had created a statue of the most majestic person in human history.
On the way to the unveiling, the stature was left in a shed near the water. The dampness had its way with Thorvaldsen’s masterpiece. The upraised and commanding hands and arms had drooped as if beseeching. The fiercely upturned face had lowered itself onto the chest. The coldness in the eyes had become tender. This was no longer a king before whom people would bow down and stammer “Your Majesty.” Rather, it resembled a shepherd fondly solicitous for every one of his sheep.
At first, the sculptor was bitterly disappointed by the accident. Then he realized after reflection and listening to others that this was a more accurate Jesus than the one he had originally planned. So, he left it undisturbed. His original intention had been to inscribe the dictum “Follow My Commands” on the base of the statue. But now he realized that this was no longer appropriate. Instead, he chiselled the softer message “Come Unto Me.”
This more benign and attractive Christ touches the hearts of those who enter the Copenhagen Cathedral. People pause in prayer. The statue reminds them of the immortal words of Jesus to a puzzled Pilate in this Sunday’s Gospel. “My kingdom is not of this world.”
The age of kings is done. The few we have left belong to history. Jesus is not bound by history. He is today and tomorrow. We do not tremble before him as an earthly Caesar. We hear him call out, “Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened, for I will give you rest.”
Fr. QQ 11/23/18