Very interesting comments on that icon. A lot to take in. I'm still trying to figure it all out.
|Saturday, September 23, 2006
1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
On top of all the other problems that were besetting the church in Corinth, some of the believers there were beginning to dispute the resurrection. No one could describe just how it came about, they reasoned, or what a resurrected body looked like. Lacking such proof, they challenged the very concept of resurrection and tried to discredit Pauls claim that Jesus was raised from the dead. But, Paul reminded them, the gospel is not simply doctrine; it is power, the power of God for . . . everyone who has faith (Romans 1:16).
We dont have to rely on visual evidence for the resurrection, or even on indisputable arguments. Each of us can know personally that it is real, and that our bodies will one day be transformed to mirror Jesus glorified body. We can know it as we see the Holy Spirit at work in us: cleansing our conscience after Confession, giving us peace as we receive the Eucharist, and giving us a sense of closeness with our Father in our prayer lives.
We should never doubt that God is doing something wonderful in each of us! He is always at work, changing us more and more into his likeness. What might some of these changes look like? People may notice a difference in our attitudes, as we become more joyful, peaceful, humble, wise, and gentle. Sometimes we notice changes in ourselves, as we grow less fearful, more compassionate and understanding, or more generous with our time. And sometimes physical changes occur: Our worry lines relax, we stand taller and begin to look others in the eye, or we smile more often.
These changes are only a foretaste, however, of the eternal life we will experience with the Father. But we can be confident that he already sees in us the emergence of the marvelous person he has created each of us to be. Daily, he who raised Jesus from the dead is giving us new life through his Holy Spirit. Resurrection? Absolutely! The small evidences we see of it now encourage us that, one day, we will be raised by the glory of the Father as surely as Jesus was!
Father, thank you that I am becoming the person you made me to be! Continue to renew me in your Spirit, so that my life may reveal the reality of your resurrection.
Psalm 56:10-14; Luke 8:4-15
Once confusing aspect is the depiction of Christ two times, once as his eternal aspect as Wisdom and another time as Himself in glory (that is what "mandorla" is). It is easy to confuse Wisdom with the Blessed Virgin.
Here is a contemporary (yet medieval in style) icon of St. Sofia The Divine Wisdom:
There are several minor irregularities in the Russian icon. God the Father is rarely depicted and the normative iconographical tradition advises not to depict him at all. I have never seen a crown on St. John the Baptist. Wings are a common feature in Russian icons of St. John, refelcting the belief that he was an angel of God. It is not what the Orthodox Church teaches, of course, yet iconographers found the wings irresistible. None of that is heretical, certainly not from less legalistic Catholic attitude toward the holy images.