Too much mud (and worse!) has been slung amongst Christians over images. Last Sunday at Mass, my youngest daughters and I, ages 4, 1 and 1, had a beautiful experience with the statuary at the Chapel. This building has no air conditioning, so after my babies woke from sleeping half way through Mass, we stood up in the back where we could share less body heat. There are two nearly life size statues of Sts. Cyril and Methodius just within reach back there. Lucy was fascinated, and I could tell by the way she was watching them that she thought they might just be alive. I quietly whispered their names to her, and told her they loved Jesus.
A little later on, we ventured further back, just inside the tiny foyer. As you enter the outer doors, there is a life size crucifix just to the right, with a bench placed right beneath it. By this time, my four year old daughter had joined us. She sat on the bench a short while, and then she declares, “Jesus! Him dead!” I don’t think she’d ever sat in such close proximity to such a large crucifix.
“Yes,” I agreed, “He died for your sins!”
“Him bleed!” She was sounding a little distraught, and I reminded her that Jesus did not stay dead.
“Jesus is alive, in Heaven.”
And that is exactly what our statues, icons and images are for. They present the Gospel, remind us of others throughout history who love Jesus, and help us to reflect on the sacrifices of Christ himself, and those who heroically followed him. One doesn’t need to be intellectually astute, or even able to follow all the intricacies of the Scripture read and the homily given, to have one’s faith enriched at Mass. The Gospel is written in plaster and glass all around us.