Why All the Sad Statues?
From Heather Withers, Johannesburg – Why is it that all the icons we have in our churches and historical paintings and books display sad-looking saints, angels and even a sad Mary, sad Joseph and sad Jesus himself?
At a Catholic bookshop, I recently requested a small statue of a happy Jesus to place in my home, but was saddened at being told that there was no such thing.
The Christmas painting by Benedictine nuns in Madrid which you chose for the front page of the special Christmas edition (December 19) was beautiful, but on closer inspection I noticed that the angels did not display the joy to the world I would have expected from so delightful an event.
Surely words such as rapture and radiance, glorious and joyous with which the Scriptures are liberally sprinkled describe our deliverance from all that is dark and dreadful, and surely should cause us to exult in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Can one really glorify and praise God with a sad and sombre face? Surely the sorrow of the cross is overshadowed by the glorious Resurrection.
I would like to challenge our modern artists and painters to portray our Lord Jesus as we see him in Scripture, from the tiny babe where the fullness of God dwelt in him bodily, to the young adult who strode among the hills of Galilee, suntanned and strong, muscles rippling from cutting wood, sawing and shaping it into useful and beautiful pieces of furniture.
I see a Jesus with sparkling eyes, looking with compassion on the mantle of our humanity which had been placed on him as well, looking constantly to his Father for guidance, then with stories and playful illustrations opening the eyes of those who would believe.
And how I would like to see the wonder of the young Mary, gazing at the infant in her arms, as she discovers with amazement that the young child is looking back at her with equal delight.