In Jesus’ Name: Immanuel

Recently I learned there are over 350 names for Jesus and I began to wonder why this over indulgence in naming? Maybe it is because it is impossible to hold pure light in a jar and the exercise or rather the pleasure of considering each name is like looking through a different crystal prism to enjoy a myriad of colors it produces through refracted light.

Because of this, I have decided to write a series of blogs: “In Jesus Name” to consider the beauty of each name and pair it with a painting. I hope you will join me as I explore #InJesus’Name.

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Madonna del Cardellino, Madonna of the Goldfinch, 1505-06, Raphael (1483-1520) oil on wood, 42 X 30 inches, Uffizi Gallery Florence, Image Source

What I remember from my college class is that in his day Raphael was considered a court favorite. One look at his paintings and it is easy to understand why he was so beloved by all. They are simply perfection as representations of the High Renaissance period of art. The graceful poses of each figure placed perfectly within the composition of a triangle producing a feeling stability and balance. Nothing is overly dramatic, all is peaceful and calm and idyllically set before a backdrop of nature.

As I gaze at this painting, I enjoy the idea of Jesus and John the Baptist, being cousins  born just a few weeks apart, playing at Mary’s feet. Raphael is able to capture a feeling of intimacy as he elegantly poses the baby Jesus at his mother’s knee while she gazes down serenely.  We can almost imagine the warmth of his chubby little foot resting on her’s. So sweet, so human and the perfect moment in time. John the Baptist with his curls holding a goldfinch; Mary dressed in red and blue symbolic of heaven/earth or human/divine…

Legend has it that the goldfinch, known for its unique red breast markings and also known for eating thorns, swooped down as Jesus suffered on the cross to pluck a thorn from his crown thus being eternally marked with a splash of Christ’s blood. A charming tale and Raphael knows that placing the bird in the picture this way will foreshadow Jesus’ passion.

Immanuel (God with Us)

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,’ (which means God with us.) ~ Matthew 1: 22-23 quoting Isaiah 7:14

To never be alone–to always have the Divine presence of God with me. To comfort me, to guide and protect, Jesus is all of that and so much more! Can you imagine with me?

“You don’t understand!”  the child cries…

“You have no idea!”  the man grumbles and walks away…

“Welcome to my world!” the woman nods knowingly…

And God thinks: “I created the world with a word…I gave life with my breath…

I parted the sea and placed the rainbow in the sky…

But the world still doesn’t see…”

And we continue to cry out: “If only someone would truly listen. If only someone could walk in my shoes for a while, then they would know how much we suffer.”

And the Master softens his gaze—-“How can I touch their hearts? He wonders, “How can I help them experience their lives with more grace?

Just then the child steps forward; the child that is held safe within His sacred heart; and says: “Send me, for I am the best part of your love. Send me to live among the people of your creation. Let me become fully human, for I am closest to your heart and I understand you like no other.”

And the Master knows it is time;

 He sends the news to heal the world:

and the woman replies “Let it be–I am the Lord’s Servant”

 the man becomes speechless…

for unto us a child is born …

Immanuel -God with Us

In Jesus Name

Amen

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