I have always been fascinated by the creativity and ingenuity of William Holman Hunt, the 19th-century English painter and of the founders of the Pre- Raphaelite Brotherhood. His artistic brilliance captures with vivid colour and elaborate symbolism a message that radiates wonder within me, most notably, his painting of Christ the Light of the World. It has often been referred to as a sermon in a frame. It is one of the greatest masterpieces of the Renaissance. It depicts Jesus, carrying a lantern knocking at a door with no handle on the outside. The door is overgrown with weeds, and the nails and hinges are rusted, implying that the door has never been opened. The message it portrays is that it’s up to the person on the other side of the door to let Jesus in.
In the introduction for the readings this week, we are reminded that God does not barge into our lives; he stands and waits at the gate and knocks. In the first reading, from the prophet Isaiah, we hear those words, “a voice cries, prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert.”
Advent is a time to prepare a way for the Lord. Yet to prepare the way, we have to do four significant tasks, we need to: be still, listen, learn, and know! Listening is probably the hardest. Yet, it’s the key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages can get distorted, words can be spoken incorrectly, and as a result, we can become frustrated and irritated.
I return in wonder to my painting, and the book of Revelation comes alive to me. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”
My prayer this Advent is that in our COVID-19 world, we will hear the Lord knocking at our door, and as a global family rediscover our soul.