Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Good Shepherd Iconography
Roman Catholic Jesus (The Good Shepherd)
My commentary here seems to be the way that Western Christian art de-masculinizes Jesus. Sometimes to the extreme. For instance, the Western mystics speak about Christ nursing them at times. (St. Bernard claimed to have nursed from the Blessed Virgin, but I'm not touching that issue). I sometimes enjoy these portrayals of Christ, and I think they were produced to show the approachability(?) of Christ, and his meekness. I like this image a lot, and after spending enough time in the RCC, I have come to identify with it's once foreign iconography and art. It's a very kind Jesus.
East Orthodox Jesus (The Good Shepherd)
There's no one quite like Orthodox Jesus. Half Putin, half Goliath. That sheep is being dragged with Him whether it likes it or not (paradoxically contradictory to the EO view of predestination, but I guess sometimes lex orandi lex credendi non est). Sometimes I feel like I'm looking at Vlad the Impaler, rather that our blessed Lord, but other times I'm impressed by the authority and power of Christ. This icon reminds me of his strong words: "[m]y sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me". If I heard this man shouting at me (with a heavy Russian accent?) I would certainly stop what I was doing, and listen.
Synthesis / Protestant(?) Jesus
This image is a nice rapproachment between the East & West. It's an image from a Lutheran church in my province. I won't say it's the best because of it's denominational affiliation, after all, it might've just been a public domain image that they slapped on their website. However, I think it does a good job of capturing the humanity of Christ (while keeping him masculine), and also the sheep over his shoulders is quite significant to me, and is more reminiscent of Lk 15:5 "when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing."
Christ is my Good Shepherd, who leaves the 99 to find me, a wayward sheep, one which doesn't heed his voice, and wanders my own way, but whom the Lord graciously picks up and carries home himself.