“And how does this happen to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43).
This past Sunday, we heard these magnificent words of St. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaiming Jesus to be Lord and Mary to be His Mother. Despite her being advanced in years, she gives immense and profound respect to the Virgin Mary. Meditating upon the event of the Visitation brings us to recognize Mary as truly the Theotokos, the God-bearer. She joyfully hurries to sharer the good news that Jesus the Lord, the Word of God, the fullness of revelation, is now within Her.
Just as Mary carries the Word of God to Elizabeth and leads her and her child to exclaim with joy in the presence of the Lord, so sacred images, such as this one, lead their viewers to delightfully contemplate the Divine. Mary is therefore the most beautiful of creatures. She is God’s artistic masterpiece from which He drew His own Humanity.
Now, we have been considering the place of art in theology. Art has an ability to so powerfully convey a message that it is often said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” How much more, then, are sacred fine arts valuable for sharing the Good News of salvation! These pieces of art are powerful signs that move our hearts back to God in the way most appropriate to our humanity—through our bodily senses!
Certainly, art is limited; it imitates nature. The Icon of God par excellence is Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the “Image of the Invisible God.” His being Incarnate in the Virgin Mary is not only the subject that sacred art tries to imitate or represent, but it is also the very reason we can even create sacred images of God in the first place!
If Mary never agreed to God’s will of salvation through her, where would His Humanity have come from? If Jesus were not human, how would we see Him? If we never saw Him, how would we paint Him? How would the artists lead others to encounter the mysterious person of Jesus Christ?
As we draw very near to our yearly celebration of the birth of Jesus, true God and true Man, let us thank God for the crucial role Our Mother Mary had in bringing us all to Christ. Let us work to imitate her zeal in joyfully carrying Christ to others. Finally, let us praise and adore God that, in Jesus we are given a chance to see Him in this life, so that we may be led to contemplate Him forever in the next.
Br. Francis Dominic Nguyen, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE