The icon of God

Thursday

Colossians 1

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev (ca. 1410...

Christ the Redeemer by Andrei Rublev (ca. 1410, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15He is the image of the invisible God

The Greek word translated ‘image’ comes into English as icon.  In the Eastern Church an icon is a window into eternity – and a window by which eternity looks into us.  This is why the eyes of an icon are so penetrating.  It’s why the iconostasis, the front wall of an orthodox church filled with images of the saints, looks down upon the human community.  At the altar, heaven and earth form one worshipping community.

Jesus is the icon of God.  Here heaven touches earth.  Here the face of God is made visible and looks into our souls.  Here the life and hope of the universe opens blind eyes, calms troubled spirits, and touches the broken with healing.  Here perfect love is manifest, the purpose of God to heal and save made known, and the incomprehensible sorrows and tragedies of life swathed in the compassion and promise of God.  In Christ the mystery of God is revealed: God suffers for his world.  God endures the sorrows of his world.  God endures the hatred and rejection of humankind, embracing all in mercy.  God shows himself to be love.

“God is love.”  The words seem altogether too trite in the midst of this complex and troubled world – so trite as to seem nonsensical.  That’s why these words are connected to the story of a healing, suffering man who forgives even his crucifiers.  He is the icon of God.  He is the face of God.  He is the truth of God: boundless, wounded, unconquerable love.

19In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven.

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