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Friday, 17 August 2012

Christ After the Flagellation Contemplated by the Christian Soul

This painting by Diego Velazquez, painted between 1626 and 1628, has been hanging in my bedroom since I arrived in London in June. The baroque masterpiece depicts Christ, ennobled and yet suffering, being sought and looked at by the soul, depicted as a little child. In that sense, the painting reminds me of the icons, which show the soul as small and innocent. An angel, strong, bold, large, imposing, gender-less, handsome, teacher-like, in red and black, points to the injured Christ. I like to think this angel is my Guardian Angel, the guardian of my soul and every soul of a human who is a child of God.

We are made children of God in baptism and not before. This soul has been given an angel as a child of God and the angel, rightly so, indicates that Christ died for this soul's innocence and salvation.

The instruments of torture lie in the foreground of the painting. Christ is strained, still bound to the pillar. But, He is in control, the Master of His Suffering. He looks at the soul with great love and longing. Love Me and Honor Me, the look seems to state. Christ seems to be asking the soul to think of why He has been brought to this state. But, there is not reproach, only love.

There are no accidents with God and this is not my picture, not my room, only a summer dwelling. One of the oddest things about the painting is that the Christ looks like a member of my family, bringing an intimacy to the portraiture through the gene-pool and the imagination of the artist.

That God wants me to contemplate His Suffering is true and good. He calls me and you to contemplation in the busy world.

May I respond always in obedience to my angel and in the attitude of honor and love of this soul in the painting.

Besides an icon which I brought with me of the Vladimir Madonna, which I carry everywhere, the only other picture in the room is a print of St. Etheldreda's entitled, "Chapel, Ely Place".  I am content with the art in my little room.