Sunday, May 7, 2006

Giving Jesus a Hand

Jesus towers 12 feet high over 33th Street between 9th and 10th avenues in midtown Manhattan.

He graces the back entrance of the Church of St. Michael, not far from the entrance to the St. Michael Academy.

To Jesus' east, across the street, is the back of the Farley post office, Penn Station, and Madison Square Garden.

Carved on the wall behind him is Matthew 11:28: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

It's a comforting verse for the thousands of people who pass by every day, including people who work for the Associated Press, WNET/Channel 13, and the Daily News.

I've passed by that statue five days a week for the past 13 months as I've gone to work.Every day, I would feel bad that vandals had cut off its hand, and I would wish there were something I could do.

Today, I snapped these photos for a "before" picture. Tomorrow, work begins at last to give the statue of Jesus and his Sacred Heart a new hand. The workers will also repair other parts of the statue that are in disrepair, and they will put protective glass around the statue to thwart would-be vandals. Parishioners and people who work in the area, including myself, donated the money for the work so that the statue would continue to provide its comforting witness.

Directly across the street is a billboard from a Jewish organization. Although its object is different than that of the Sacred Heart statue, its message is strangely congruent: "Ask the Rabbi."