Images of Resurrection Part 2

Well, just when I asked a question about why there are so few images of the resurrection in churches I received a stunning answer in the book I’m currently reading by Tomas Halik, Patience with God. I think Halik is one of the most creative theological voices I’ve heard in a long time in the way he responds to the situation of Christian faith in contemporary Europe, writing, as he does, from one of the least religiously observant countries in our continent. But he writes as a sympathetic fellow-traveller, not a strident critic of his contemporaries.

His take on the absence of images of the resurrection is subtle. First, he insists that there can be no meaningful talk of resurrection without a serious understanding of the cross and all it entails in terms of Jesus’ abandonment and suffering. Such a resurrection would simply be a find of triumphalism. Then he suggests that the resurrection is not depicted because it is an event that must take place in us. It is a profound mystery which, if it does not decisively shape the way we live our lives is nothing more than ‘just another event’ to whose veracity we assent passively:

What distinguishes it from the other historical facts is that it is ‘visible’ only with the eyes of faith – and because in the here and now even faith sees all the things of God only partially and as in a mirror, it must be supported in the darkness of our lives by patience and the perseverance of hope.

and

Belief in the Resurrection means accepting that ‘strength that showed itself in ‘weakness’, the strength of Christ’s sacrifice – His sacrificial love as a living reality. Not to believe in Christ’s Resurrection is to live as if the cross were the final end.

Seen with the eyes of faith, the resurrection becomes a total commitment to the way of self-giving love, trusting that this way is ultimately life-giving. In the midst of history, the resurrection ‘should be present through the testimony of those who make known that Christ is not a finished chapter.’

One thought on “Images of Resurrection Part 2

  1. Thanks for this reflection John, I find it very helpful. I wonder if the rarity of images of the resurrection may also be because it seems almost impossible to depict this mysterious event figuratively without it appearing ridiculous – c.f. your observation in yesterday’s post about Christ and the angels standing on little clouds! I’m grateful to those artists who do attempt to portray it, often symbolically, and to those such as yourself who help us to interpret the significance of artworks, and more importantly, experience the reality of resurrection in our lives.

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