Friday, June 27, 2008

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

For more about the icon, click here or here.

The beauty of an icon is not (or at least not primarily) sensible, but representational. Not the colors alone, but what those colors represent. It's not about passive receptivity, but active discovery ... the affirmation of truth.

In this image, the Theotokos is clad not in her signature blue tones, but the red of martyrdom. She gazes upon us resolutely, patiently ... yet with an unmistakable measure of pain. Her Son (not the helpless Babe of the Infancy narratives, but the inquisitive Man-Child found in the temple with His Father) gazes not upon us, but upon the instruments of His Passion. He does not run away from them ... but draws upon the maternal embrace to steady Him, keep Him on course.

One cannot fully appreciate the dynamic of the Passion unless the full humanity of Christ is kept fully in our sights. I believe it was Jerome who said it: "Only that which had been truly assumed, could have been truly redeemed."

An unfortunate -- and common -- fallacy that creeps into the thinking of some Christians when they detach themselves from the maternal heart of Mary is that they lose sight of the full humanity of her Son. It was she who gave Him the curve of His jaw, the color of His eyes ... the emotional and rational landscape that, undiminished by sin, blossomed into all that is truly human. Her humanity that joined Him unalterably ... to us.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!
Take us within your mantle and show us
How to navigate unchartered waters ...
to the shores of the New Jerusalem.