Explanation of Front Cover

Introduction

This picture of our Lord is entitled "Jesus Pantocrater." It is a Russian Icon painted in the 16th Century. It is a holy and inspired painting. A word of explanation about its title may help some of our visitors.

The title in English may be rendered "Jesus, Creator of All" inspired by the words of the Blessed Apostle John who taught in chapter one of his Gospel (Verse 3): "It was through him that all things came into being, and without him came nothing that has come to be".

Thus the icon is sometimes referred to as "Christ the Almighty". A third title may be ascribed to it: "Jesus Christ, the Word" for it was through him that everything was made. He is indeed the,

"Almighty Word of the Creator of All".

What Is An Icon?

Icons are called "windows to heaven". The Greek word IKON (eikon) means "a living, efficacious image". The icon therefore is said to make present the reality it shows. An icon is not simply a picture, but rather an image of revealed truths. In fact icons are said to be written rather than painted because of the teaching they contain. Icons are prepared by people deeply immersed in God, who paint under Divine inspiration. Icons are meant likewise to be beheld in a state of prayer. They are not museum or art gallery items! They belong in our churches and in our homes.

An icon is not an idol. The purpose of an icon is to give a message. The message is always one of the relationship of man with God through God's revelation of himself to man. This is a message which requires inner hearing and inner seeing. Indeed it leads us to contemplate the Word of God.

Reflections on Our Icon

You may like to download and print a copy of our icon so that you can follow our reflections more easily.


Click on the above image for a
larger version that you can print out

First: "Reading the Icon" (selected aspects)

  • Perhaps the first thing you notice is the colour of the background. Gold, the colour of colours, expresses glory. This is a vision of Christ in glory. The eyes draw us immediately, and we discover the Lord appearing to look at us. Yet on reflection he is not looking at us but rather  beholding us.
  • In fact in his divine capacity he is looking beyond us to behold all creation. For he is in prayer, beholding all that was made by him and through him (John 1: 3) "And God saw all that he had made, and found it very good." (Genesis 1: 3)

He is looking at all creation with total loving kindness and affirming it.

We soon notice that the hands and finger shapes are not natural. One hand holds the Sacred Scriptures to share with us.

The fingers on the other hand do 3 things:

a) They point to the Father, all of whose words Jesus claims he passes on to us: "I gave them the words you gave me..." (John 17: 8)

b) They point to his heart—symbol of the spiritual centre of our being. He is at prayer — he is at the spiritual centre, the abode of the Spirit.

c) His fingers also beckon us to join him there heart to heart in prayer, for he prays ceaselessly: "Father, I want those you have given to me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me before the creation of the world." (John 17: 24)

Secondly: "Listening" To The Lord

In a loving, non-judgmental and totally affirming pose, Jesus is earnestly seeking our company, our undivided attention. For he has the words of life. He is the word of God made flesh, inviting us to meet him face to face, to share everything the Father has given him. Those who draw near in faith find that the gift of prayer does not just bring down "God among us" but also elevates us into his Divine Presence where we can be at peace and harmony with him. There, all obstacles are removed, all blockages dissolved. The Divine Word reflects the sheer joy and delight of God when his people come into his presence to listen to him and behold his glory.

When we look into the eyes of this icon of Jesus the Word, we know the God of all creation loves us for what we are with the only love he can: total love.

Conclusion

No matter what your background, when you respond to the Spirit's influence in your depths, and approach to behold the Lord Jesus Christ calling you to be his disciple, you have come home. All may approach. All are invited to listen. Those who persevere will find life, and enjoy it to the full, for that is why he has come (John 10: 10).

 

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