|Paolo ~ Venetian Crucifix ~ Byzantine Influence|
The whole creation was changed by fear,
when it saw you, O Christ, hanging on the cross.
The sun was darkened and the foundation of the earth was shaken
for all things suffered with the creator of all.
Of your own will you have endured
this torment for our sakes.
Therefore, we the faithful glorify your great compassion.
And seeing you hanging on the cross, O Christ,
The Virgin Mother cried:
"O my son, where is the beauty of your form?
I cannot bear to look upon you crucified unjustly.
Make haste, then, to arise my Son,
that I may see on the third day your resurrection from the dead."
Byzantine Service of the Twelve Gospels
Notice the two-toned background over the Jerusalem wall and around the cross in the painting. It feels like a tunnel that might take us beyond: beyond our pre-occupations, beyond our usual thoughts, beyond our unfeeling.
The Apostle John is close to Jesus on the right, but behind him are the soldiers geared up in metal, with shields, helmets and swords.
And on the left is a tight cluster of women supporting Mary, Jesus' Mother, who is in a great collapse of sorrow.
We're so familiar with the crucifix, it's easy to admire but in a kind of disconnect. What's happening in this scene? Maybe it's like a mother who bleeds to give birth to her child and then throughout her life, immediately willing to suffer anything, even to give her life for the sake of her child, especially when the child is lost, sick, vulnerable or troubled. Jesus our Mother - Saint Juliana said. And Jesus speaking of himself as mother; "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent you! How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused." (Matthew 23:37)
And women collapse still, suffering for love and crying out over the deforming of their children and loved ones by injustice, and hoping against hope for resurrection, healing, life, peace and fairness.