Monday, March 31, 2008

An Icon of the Holy Trinity

The Icon of the Holy Trinity was painted in 1425 by a Russian monk, Andrei Rublev.

Based on the story in Genesis 18, on one level, it depicts the three angels who ate the meal Abraham and Sarah prepared for them. Later they will announce the unexpected birth of their son, Isaac.

On a deeper level, the three angels represent the three persons of the Trinity. Although their heads are tilted at different angles towards one another, their faces are identical, and each holds a staff suggesting they possess equal authority. (click on picture for a larger view) Each of the figures wear blue, showing their oneness, yet they also have different coloured garments showing their distinctiveness. Their faces, bent towards one another show their love for one another while their gleaming eyes show their enjoyment. A silent intimate conversation seem to be going on.

The central focus of the icon seem to be the chalice which contain a lamb sitting at the centre of the table. In distinct ways, the figure point to the significance of the lamb. The central figure who is the Son points with two fingers directly to the lamb, acknowledging his mission of being "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).

The hand of the Father, the figure on the left, is raised in blessing over the chalice, thus encouraging the Son in his work. The Holy Spirit, the figure on the right is pointing to a rectangular opening in front of the table which signify the world.

The Son comes and offers himself for the world, through the Holy Spirit the world is brought to the Son and the Father.

Take a while to look at the icon and meditate and pray before you read the comments below

Henri Nouwen comments, "we come to experience a gentle invitation to participate in the intimate conversation that is taking place among the three angels and to join them around the table. The movement from the Father towards the Son and the movement of both Son and Spirit towards the Father becomes the movement in which the one who prays is lifted up and held secure"

Rublev's icon beckons us to enter the circle of love, the divine life of the blessed Trinity.


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