Jesus was a carpenter, after the man who had part in raising Him, Joseph. It was God’s plan all along that Joseph be betrothed to the Mother of God. Joseph, a noble, honest and fair man was chosen to raise the Son of God.
Carpentry was a rough, tough job that demanded a great deal of physical strength and endurance as well as great skill. A carpenter not only creates, but also repairs – which is what Jesus came to do! He created the path after death. He created the path to Salvation. He created sincere faith. He repaired our broken, corrupted understanding of love with Himself, the very definition of pure love. He repaired the broken creation, humanity. He repaired the bond between God and humans. He repaired the eyes of Man and the associated lust for worldly pleasures, replacing it with the pure desire for the Heavenly treasures. He repaired our broken souls, spirits and hearts. He repaired us from all sin. He wants to reunite us with life, but should we choose to remain broken, how can He force us?
A carpenter fixes structures and bridges and Jesus fixed the structure of humanity. He fixed the bridge between Man and God. Carpenters use many tools to achieve their job. Jesus not only used wood and nails, but used spiritual nails and hammers. Oftentimes in the Bible, we see the immediate effect of these tools which Christ had used. We see it through all the disciples, through tax collectors, through Lazarus and through St. Paul. But there is a reoccurring theme between all of these instant transformations: “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
We will only ever be transformed when we take a leap of faith into His hands. Carpenters know how to work with the grains in wood. Likewise, Christ knows how to work with us. He does not lack the tools but rather, we lack the faith. We need to allow ourselves to be sawn through, broken and reduced to splinters to then allow Him to build a masterpiece out of us. When we focus on the bigger picture, that of our Salvation and eternal life with Him, we learn to accept and even desire to be sawn through and recreated as a masterpiece. When we read the Holy Bible, and realise that the happenings of the Old and New Testament are lessons to us even in this day and age, then we learn to entrust our reality to God. When we kneel in prayer and get to know our Father, we learn to be thankful in every situation that we are put in. These simple, yet effective, practices change our perspective, and this single thought could be the foundation and reason for our thankfulness during hard times.
We are often told to be thankful during all times, including hardship. But we often ask, ‘What is there to be thankful for when I lose my job and can’t pay my bills? What is there to be thankful for when all my friends forget me? What is there to be thankful for when I don’t feel Him in my life anymore?’ It is hard to have true gratitude during these times but at these lowest points, we must remember that we, the wood, must be destroyed to become a masterpiece and to someone who does not know what is happening, it may look like pure violence. Every great person throughout the history of our Church was reconstructed by Christ to create the person He wanted them to be. Just take a look at Moses, King David, St Paul, Job and Joshua to name a few.
Using man-made tools, wood does not stay as is but will always eventually bend back to the original shape, as any carpenter or wood worker will tell you. The wood will curve and go back to its old ways and this can either be comforting or very worrying for us. If we, like the wood of the carpenter, go back to our old ways, then we may have a chance of bending back to our original state before our fall. Or we may have a way of bending back to our sinful ways before we allowed Him into our life. Only He has the tools to truly shape us and bend us into the artworks, into the perfect “pieces of wood”.
While a regular carpenter’s tool box would include an axe, a chisel and a mallet, our Carpenter of our souls uses parables, reconciliation and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5). To some, these are the “hammer”, our tool to preach and call Christians from all over the world. To others, these are the “nails” that we need to bring us back to God.
But in essence, we are the wood He uses to build His Church.
We are the wood He carried to Golgotha.
SAYG ~ Abanoub Shukry.