top of page

Third Sunday after Pentecost

Saint Margaret’s Anglican Church Budapest, Hungary Genesis 18:1-15; Psalm 116:1, 10-17 Romans 5:1-8; Matthew 9:35-10:8 The kingdom of heaven has come near. I can think of only three saints who are regularly depicted in art and Christian iconography as holding or carrying the Child Jesus. The first of course should come as no surprise. Mary, the Mother of our Lord, and as the Church teaches, the Mother of God, is frequently depicted holding her Son in her arms; the Madonna and Child, as the image is typically called. Medieval Franciscan, Saint Anthony of Padua, is also often, and somehow improbably, as it seems to me, shown holding the Child Jesus in his arms. And Saint Christopher, our young Stanley Christopher’s patron and namesake, is famously represented in art carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulders or back, as you can see in the above image from fifteenth-century Germany. The depiction is based upon an early medieval legend about the third-century Saint Christopher, according to which he was a sort of gangly, tall, and awkward-looking fellow, incapable of regular work, reflection, or even prayer; and named Reprobus, meaning something like, umm, the Ugly-One. A Christian monk, so the legend goes, suggested to him that he might find his fulfillment in life and salvation, given his disposition, size and build, ferrying travelers and pilgrims across the nearby river on his outsized shoulders. And this is what Christopher, or Reprobus, did with his life. One day, it seems, a young lad approached him asking to be carried across the stream, and Christopher obligingly hoisted him up upon his shoulders and entered the waters. But midway across the river, the waters suddenly swelled, and the child became somehow heavy as lead. Finally reaching the farther shore exhausted, Reprobus inquired of the child, who he was. “I am the Christ you seek to serve in your work,” responded the Little One. “The swirling waters which surrounded you represent the turmoil of this life with all its vicissitudes and troubles, and my weight is the weight of sin which I bore on the Cross. And now, you shall no longer be called Reprobus, or the Ugly-One, but Christopher, meaning, the Christ-Bearer.” And so it was that Christopher received his name. About as beautiful a name, I might add, as is imaginable. Christopher and his legend became popular throughout medieval Europe, and he went on to become the patron saint of pilgrims, migrants, refugees, and travelers of all sorts; not to

mention sailors, ferry-boat captains, mariners, and, yes, you guessed it, surfers. Many devout Roman Catholics to this day wear a Saint Christopher medal around their neck or displayed in their automobile, invoking his protection on the journey ahead and thereby reminding themselves, and us, of our own Christion journey of faith; a journey upon which our young Stanley Christopher now embarks at his Baptism. For, we are all Christophers, all Christ-Bearers. In our passage this morning from the Gospel of Matthew, our Lord makes this abundantly clear. He instructs the Twelve, each of whom is named, and sends them forth bearing the Good News of his Gospel far and wide. “As you go, proclaim the good news,” he tells them, the Good News that “‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’” No telling how many rivers and streams those Twelve Apostles forded on their mission to bring Christ and his message to the world. No telling the hardships they faced and the resistance they found on their journeys. Their challenge, like that of Saint Christopher, remains with us still: To face the changes and chances of this mortal life with fortitude and faith; To bring Christ to this tumultuous world with all its challenges and weight of sin; And to proclaim for all to hear and know, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” God be near to you too, young Stanley Christopher, as you are now borne with our Lord across the Jordan and into the waters of Baptism and into the life of faith to follow. Amen. The Revd Dr Frank Hegedűs

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page