Christ the Teacher

Wednesday, February 21, 2024 12:00 pm EST

John Cahill ’27 M.Div. is in his first year of vows and third year of seminary in the Congregation of Holy Cross. The formation process Holy Cross priests undertake during seminary is a focused and deliberate time of discernment and growth to prepare them for life as a vowed religious. Like all Christians, this is a call to continual conversion and formation as a disciple of Christ the Teacher. 

Christ Blessing by Alessandro Oliverio embodies for us an image of Christ the Teacher. We can imagine his gaze is focused on someone—maybe one of the disciples. His right hand extended in a gesture of blessing could also be seen as a posture of authority, a dramatic pause at the end of sharing one of his many parables. His left-hand clasps a book—perhaps a book of the law or one of the prophets. 

In the Mass readings for the second Wednesday in Lent, the church focuses on the story of Jonah, a prophet sent to warn Nineveh and speak the words of salvation to a people about to cross a point of no return. This is read alongside today’s gospel in which Christ reproaches the people around him for their hard and incredulous hearts, saying, “At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah, they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Are we listening for Christ the Teacher, who is that something greater, today, or do we drown him out amidst the noise of our lives? Do we find ourselves searching for a sign from someone or something other than Christ to prove that God still loves us? Christ is not demanding like an angry boss or a screaming infant. Instead, he seeks our attention like a breathtaking sunrise or a peaceful, steady rain. He is constant, present, quiet, ready to bless and to teach us the truth when we are ready to notice and to listen. As we gaze back at the image of Christ that Oliverio presents to us, how can we better attune our hearts and minds to the words of our Savior?

This Lent, ThinkND invites you to join FaithND and the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art for a journey of Lenten discovery through some of the most significant liturgical paintings in the Raclin Murphy collection, challenging you to contemplate prayer, fasting, sinfulness, mercy, grace, and God’s infinite love from the perspectives of the artist’s gaze. To subscribe to the FaithND Daily Gospel Reflection visit

Christ Blessing, early 16th century, Oil on panel. Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress FoundationGift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.047.014.

For closer viewing of this work through the digital collections of the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, please click here.

Art and HistoryReligion and PhilosophyAlessandro OliverioAsh WednesdayCongregation of Holy CrossDigest184Digest274FaithNDLentRaclin Murphy Museum of ArtUniversity of Notre Dame