I would like to share an image, the icon of the ‘Supreme Humiliation’. This is a very moving image of the dead Christ, when Jesus’ body is placed in the tomb. As an icon, however, it is incredibly rich in themes. This representation is also a great witness to all the mysteries of Christian faith. The reason I have chosen it is its immense therapeutic power.
At the crossroads of our life this image can be a ‘game-changer’. When a person, or a culture like ours being engulfed with unsolvable problems runs out of words, we should stop and contemplate the image of Christ. Let this image speak to us today.
The image is an endpoint of a life. However, it is also a totally new beginning. We see Christ’s body touched by the Light of the Resurrection. Seconds later, he is fully alive!
There is a pear-like glow of light in this icon. This light comes from within. This golden light, with its clarity is full of joy. Full of the anticipated joy of the Resurrection. It is in a stark contrast with the darkness of the Cross. With all the, literally, dead-ends, and failures of our love. This contrast of shadow and light resonates so well with today’s words of the Gospel: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.’ From the soil of our present moment something incredibly joyful can arise!
For me, this icon is about this moment of finding what is lost in our life. This image brings to the fore that Christian faith is about the joy of finding our Lord! Christian faith is to be marked by this positive thinking and experience: we rejoice, because we found the Messiah; because we are found by Him! That’s why the light dominates in this image.
Our icon, to link it to today’s readings, is a humble request for a ‘discerning heart’. An alive, beating heart of discernment which is fine tuned to good. Or, ‘God called and intended us ‘to be the true images of his Son.’ (Saint Paul)’ I would like to mention here that Saint Paul’s words also speak to those of us who are in need of healing. When you look at this pre-resurrection body of Jesus, we can recognsie ourselves in a kind of ‘paralysis’. When our hope, our emotions are stiff, motionless, when the soul and body is in the bondage of illness. This image is a powerful companion for those who feel low, struggle with depression, loss of purpose in life, even with break-down. The good news for us is our potential for rebirth. With that light of Life, by God, we shall come alive. Just as our Covid-19 stricken world shall and our hope, faith and love will emerge unharmed. Joyful again.
Contemplating this image together reading our lives and seeking our Lord as the source of our renewal and joy is important for another reason. Our entrance antiphon captures this beautifully. Drawing joy and health from this Healing Image will unite us. We will experience that our individual search is actually a common path. We are never alone. We are never meant to be alone in our joy. This fellowship of thanksgiving, and asking for healing, places us, catapults us, into God’s ‘holy place’. So we realise that God is our joy, that God ‘who unites those who dwell in his house; he himself gives might and strength to his people.’
Let this icon of ‘the light of the pearl’ bring us to the joy of looking at our brothers and sisters, as ones who share the same light and same joy. The greatest miracle that can happen to us is recognizing that we all belong to the Kingdom of God. Let us this recognition, with its consequences shape our lives and correct those things in us which need to be corrected.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..