Holy Week For Veterans/Christ Seized In The Gardenby Michael Patrick Brewer on Apr. 05, 2012, under Veterans Benefits
This icon was most likely commissioned during the Crusades in the State of Syria or Palestine. I am always reminded of the fact that my role model, St.Francis of Assisi was first a warrior. He was very likely one of the first PTSD sufferers. The biographical movie, “Brother Sun Sister Moon,” the 1973, Zefferelli award winner, depicts the aftermath of war well in the first five minutes of the film. Sacred events and lives are often preceded by trauma.
The sacred event is shown in God’s view, with a solid gold background of uncreated light. Jesus exists in the light of God. The icon shows no time or place and like the Gospel itself is for all people everywhere in all times. Humankind is depicted as a circular ball of dramatic tension. They are dancing in a mass of energy as our earth swirls in waves of violence and betrayals—just as we are now in the 21st Century! The feet are shown in arrested movement–all them caught in mid-stride–as they may if Jesus were to appear to us this Easter–or this day. Jesus robes billow out from his body as if he were running to meet His destiny. Judas Iscariot is reaching forward to kiss Jesus and betray Him to the authorities. The tension is accentuated by all facing forward except Judas. The absence of eye contact is considered the realm of the Devil.
Behind are all of the instruments of betrayal and destruction. The wooden cudgel used by the commoner. The fire-brand wood common to Romans and Jews. Metal tipped staff used by soldiers. The Labarum, a imperial insignia symbolizing the power of Rome. The spear, the weapon of occupying forces. The sentry speared Jesus! A battle ax used by Romans. And the regimental labarum topped with titles and ribbons of officers on missions.
The only person who is grounded in the world is Malchus, the high priest’s slave, who has feet knocked out from under him. (today’s unemployed). He is responding to the bleeding wound of his right ear and earlobe. As an unnamed disciple comforts Malchus, we see Simon Peter standing over them with his sword extended and ready to defend.
A secret teaching embedded in this icon was the belief that the three torches were symbolic of the Triune God. The common mans wooden cudgel was left outside the domination of the triune God, along with his free will, so men and women could decide to follow Jesus Christ and believe or be lost in the world of violence. This icon was meant to be used during Lent as one would sit in front of it an examine where his/her soul has betrayed or gone astray from Gods Commandments.
Whom have we betrayed or furthered acts of violence?
Let this Easter be the announcement of a new world order–one without violence.