By Silvia Holgado (Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi)
February 2nd, 2024 - Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center
Artwork: The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by Gerardo Zenteno
Icons, much more than religious paintings, are “doors to the sacred” that begin in the prayer of the iconographer and culminate in the prayer of the observer. The message is the Word of God, which is why we speak more appropriately of “writing an icon” and not so much of painting an icon. Notre Dame Center has a wide collection of religious icons that accompany us on our tour of the guest house.
One of them is what we could call today the “Icon of Hope”. We are talking about the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Without a doubt this work speaks to us today, not about desires, but about hope. The icon speaks, the image speaks continuously. To us, in this troubled, violent, turbulent time, the images of Simeon and Anna speak especially to us. The Mother's hands offer the Child to all those who wait for salvation. The altar, standing out in red in the center of the image, reminds us that soon that Lamb will be offered as a sacrifice to give us Life. But what is significant now is that the Light of the nations is offered to all those who have persevered in hope, who have trusted in God's faithfulness throughout their lives, often with such tiring stages. Jesus Christ is presented as a light for safe travel in the midst of darkness and fatigue.
The old man's words of gratitude are immediate: “My eyes have seen your salvation.” And the prophetess Anna echoes them before “everyone who awaits the redemption of Jerusalem”, as a propagator of a word of faithfulness from God that cannot be silenced.
In the words of Benedict XVI: We need the greater and lesser hopes that keep us going day by day. But these are not enough without the great hope, which must surpass everything else. This great hope can only be God, who encompasses the whole of reality and who can bestow upon us what we, by ourselves, cannot attain. The fact that it comes to us as a gift is actually part of hope. God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end.