When I look at this icon from a church in Rome, I am reminded of God and Adam in the celieng paintings by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. That famous image of Adam and God reaching out towards each other with their fingers nearly touching comes to mind when I see the fingers of Jesus’ blessing and Mary’s gesturing hand nearly touching.
In iconography Jesus wears blue and puts on red whereas Mary wears red and puts on blue. In iconography red is a symbol of humanity and blue a symbol of divinity. Mary wears humanity and puts on divinity in her role as the God-bearer. Jesus, on the other hand wears divinity and puts on humanity as he grows into the human body which will be his.
Being very small – a mere child, Jesus’s humanity is still very small. That is why the red of Jesus’ clothing is limited to that tiny belt. In adulthood, the images of Jesus in icons will have a full cloak of red like the full cloak of blue warn by Mary.
This conversation of who we really are and what we put on in our work and mission is one which still applies to us today. Although I do not expect icons to be written of me, I wonder what kind of divinity God wraps me in as I do the work I am doing in the world? And I think that such is the question for all of us. Our cloaks – like Mary’s , will be of differing fabrics and differing hues but they are still God’s bestowing dignity on our humanity and our work. When we wake, might we wrap ourselves in a blue shawl as a physical symbol of our belovedness and mission? And when we march out into our day, might that act be the lens through which we see and the template through which we act?
I am not speaking about us being saints. I am just asking if a small girl who said yes to an angel and was forced to watch a child lied about, ridiculed, tortured and killed – well, if she can be a saint, might our sufferings not also be so transfigured?