As the blessed celebration of Easter continues, Ellyn von Huben brings the beauty of this indescribable event into our grasp for a moment— through the interpretation of Cecco del Caravaggio's arresting painting "Resurrection." The dynamism of the figures convey far more than just an historical event. Ellyn explains.
Those who are familiar with the work of Caravaggio know that not all of his paintings are of a spiritually elevating nature. Indeed, some of his paintings, no matter how exquisitely executed, are of subjects that would render them unsuitable as fine art prints in a family home. One book that I own describes the artist, Michelangelo Merisi, aka Caravaggio, thus: “His life was sulphurous and his painting scandalous.”(1) That encapsulates much that we need to know. The Holy Spirit can work through artists – both contemporary and of centuries past – to bring forth art of a sanctifying nature, no matter how sulfphurous the artists themselves may be. (Likewise, I must interject that there is much well meaning work of dubious quality created by earnest artists and composers of the purist of hearts and best of intentions.)
Caravaggio’s fans are familiar with his paintings of young boys, for instance “Boy Bitten by a Lizard,” “Bacchus,” and “Amor Vincit Omnia.” Even his painting of “St. John the Baptist” has a transgressive nature that would make it an unlikely to appear on a holy card. His lovers and models were frequently interchangeable. This is where I would like to introduce Francesco Buoneri, called Cecco del Caravaggio – Caravaggios’s ‘little Francesco.’ He is a painter about whom little is known. Some art historians have come to the conclusion that he may have been the model for some of Caravaggio’s most well known homo-erotic works, including the “Amor Vincit Omnia.” This cupid is certainly not what we would put on our Valentine greetings, though it had not been considered outrageously shocking in its time. Cecco was not just a hanger-on and dabbler in the workshop of the great painter. He also was a brilliant student who went on in the decade after Caravaggio’s death to make his own significant mark on the art world...
Today, the Monday of Holy Week, Father Steve Grunow shares his sermon about Isaiah, Christ, and the many complexities to a story that ultimately serve to simplify, redeem and illuminate.
Our first reading for today is an excerpt from the Old Testament Book of the Prophet Isaiah. In this text, the prophet reveals a mysterious figure, which he names as the servant of the Lord. The servant of the Lord has been chosen by the God of Israel for a particular mission.
The mission of this servant is the restoration of Israel. The prophet Isaiah speaks the word of the Lord from the midst of distressing and painful circumstances. The once-mighty Kingdom of David has fallen into ruin and its past glory has retreated into memory. The fall of David's Kingdom has left Israel vulnerable to the powers of the world that have seized their lands, destroyed their cities, desecrated their holy places and reduced Israel to the status of a slave. It is to this Israel, seemingly forsaken, that the servant of the Lord will come.
The Church understands Isaiah's vision of the servant of the Lord as a foreshadowing of Christ.
As one reads further in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah one discerns that the servant of the Lord will effect the restoration of David's Kingdom through his suffering and through his willingness to accept this suffering as a mission that comes from God, he will offer Israel forgiveness and hope.
That the servant of the Lord would suffer confounded many in Israel and still seems strange to us today. Humanity has tendency to read service to the Lord as by necessity resulting in material blessings. In this construel of Biblical revelation, the commitment to serve the Lord should result in deliverance from the hard facts of life and result in a life that is by all measure successful...