The Way of Beauty
Lament Over the Dead Christ
FOCUS OF THE MEDITATION: As we consider the end of our earthly journey in the light of faith, we come recognizing that death is not the end but our passage to God—our eternal reward. This moment of truth awaits every person at death. And death ought to be a welcome guest for those who have been faithful to God.
Vatican Museum's Pinacoteca
"Bellini gathers his figures around the body of the dead Christ. Viewers look up to regard the mournful faces of Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, and Joseph of Arimathea, whose presences fill this solemn composition. The action of this high piece highlights the sorrowful tone of Jesus' death while at the same time magnifying the intimate relationships that exist between each character and Jesus."
"In Mary Magdalene we can view ourselves in God. She was set free from her old life through the words of Jesus, and she did not turn back but stayed faithful to the end.
"Next we encounter Joseph of Arimathea, a good and just man and secret believer in Christ. Jesus' death challenged Joseph, inspiring him to profess his faith openly. Do you follow Jesus in secret? How might you allow Christ's light to shine through you for others?"
"Finally, we encounter Nicodemus, dressed in red. The Pharisee who came by night to visit Jesus (John 3:1-21) is now bathed in light as he supports the corpse of Christ. Jesus invited him him to become like a little child, born again by water and the Spirit in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:1-13)."
"So often we feel we are doing the bulk of the work, when in fact it is always Jesus who is lifting us up, gracing us with new life."
2 Corinthians 5:1-9
Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the offering for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedo'nia, saying that Acha'ia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them.
But I am sending the brethren so that our boasting about you may not prove vain in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be; lest if some Macedo'nians come with me and find that you are not ready, we be humiliated--to say nothing of you--for being so confident.
So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren to go on to you before me, and arrange in advance for this gift you have promised, so that it may be ready not as an exaction but as a willing gift.
The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.
As it is written, "He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever."
PRAYER AND REFLECTION
"Read a passage from the Gospel that recalls the death of Jesus. How does Jesus' death and the events that surround it help you understand your own pending death?"
The comments above are taken from Meditations on Vatican Art by Fr. Mark Haydu. To truly enter into this Visio Divina, I suggest purchasing the book as each masterpiece comes with a complete description, prayer and reflection, and spiritual exercise.