ut of many, one that fascinates me is the imagination that accompanies while reading holy scriptures, often a bait for the heart to parade visual illustration that narrates the text. In the recent month, there were three such scriptural occasions which I hereby share:
After passion of Christ, ‘The disciple whom Jesus loved’ (cf Jn 19:26) starts the narration of the burial of Jesus. Joseph (Arimathea) and Nicodemus take the lead in preparation and “The two men took Jesus’ body and wrapped…” (cf Jn 19:40). When I read this, my catholic upbringing was painting a particular profound picture which was missing. Thanks to the cross reference, I frantically abandon John and sought the help of our friends who were narrating the same incident just few pages behind. Matthew trimmed it further: “So Joseph took it & wrapped it…” (cf. Mt. 28:59), Luke addition details didn’t helped either: “Then he took the body down, wrapped it…(cf. Lk 23. 53) my only hope as I flipped was to find if Mark offers a help: “Joseph bought a linen sheet, took the body down, wrapped it…” (cf. Mk 15:46).
Oh, those ‘lengthy’ lenten Fridays as a youth I can’t forget specifically because of the way of the cross and the wall-mount images which helped the congregation to contemplate. Now, suddenly the 13th station pic “Jesus body lying on the lap of Mother Mary” cries for a better explanation (Before the reader assume anything, I want to clear it is just a quest of a ‘cradle’ catholic’ nothing more). It left me to dig deep into what was called as ‘Pieta’ and masterpiece’s history of how & why Michelangelo designed it. I would skip that tangent, but It would be of great interest, if one takes that path. Nevertheless, the pic & the idea comes under the mantle of ‘tradition’ that was passed on and we Catholics have a breather.
The second scriptural reference that set me on a similar path was the day after the Sabbath day. As a Jewish ritual Mary Magdalene was paying visit to the tomb, “Suddenly there was a violent earthquake; an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled the stone away, and sat on it…” (cf. Mt 28:2) followed by “…He is not here; he has been raised, just as he said. Come here and see the place where he was lying.“ (cf. Mt. 28:6) which brought the infamous image to my mind of “Jesus stepping out of tomb picture’ with the stoned lying on the aside. Though it’s quite a powerful image but it provokes the admirer to imagine that Jesus is stepping outside the tomb after the stone was moved aside. But, did it really happened? Was any mass/object proved to be a hindrance to the resurrected Jesus? Matthew specifically mentions it was the angel who rolled the stone unlike Luke, John & Mark who are contained in stating the stone affair as: “…Then they looked up and saw that the stone had already been rolled back” (cf. Lk 16:4), “…Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away from the entrance” (cf. Jn 20:1) or “They found the stone rolled away from the entrance to the tomb, so they went in; but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (cf. lk 24: 2-3) cause Jesus was long gone even before the stone was rolled.
Lastly, lets take a detailed account of one of the aspect of Thomas and the resurrected Jesus face-off. “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side.” Ah, that reminds me of one more profound pictures in which Thomas is depicted as putting his finger in the side of Jesus while his mates look upon. But, I think the illustrator kind of mild’s the above reality captured by Matthew, doesn’t it?
Few or many artistic impressions are pure artist’s imagination, nevertheless it has been helping faithfuls in leaps & bounds to get closer in search of Love and Truth. May we continue our spiritual journey with art as a fine tool while every image continues to narrate a story!