Most folks who call St. Louis “home” can’t imagine our city without its trademark monument – the Gateway Arch. But we know now that the gleaming structure is not impervious to the elements.
A couple of years ago, the local media reported that Wicket City’s colossus is ‘suffering from growing rust and decay [with] corrosion, some of it feared aggressive, and severe discoloration of the stainless steel skin…’
Although I’m (just barely) old enough to remember the city without its landmark, it still came as a bit of shock to hear the news. You see, I’ve grown used to the Arch. I consider it a permanent fixture of the downtown skyline.
I thought about that as I was listening to the second reading at Mass today—from St. Paul’s letter to the people of Colossae. I suspect the Christian community in that city knew something of diminishment in their lives, too.
Colossae was once a thriving center of commerce—what one source calls ‘the chief city of South-Western Phrygia, lying on the trade-route from Sardis to Celænæ.’ But by the time Paul was writing, it had become something of a backwater…its demise ‘brought about by the change of road system [and] the foundation of Laodicea, eleven miles distant.’
Indeed, Colossae was eventually destroyed completely…probably by earthquakes. Nothing but a mound of rubble remains today.
And so, as I listened to St. Paul’s words about Jesus—his confession of faith in the Christ, the cornerstone—I found myself reflecting on the corruptible nature of the monuments I tend to cling to in my own life. Even a stunning piece of work like St. Louis’ world-famous Gateway Arch won’t last forever.
St Paul points us to a different landmark—a worthy destination…the only worthy destination…to hold in our hearts as we celebrate the feast of Christ the King:
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
— Colossians 1: 12-30