Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves after the fall, to hide the nakedness of which they were ashamed. Christ, by His saving work, restores to humanity the Robe of Glory we forfeited through sin, so we will have no more need to hide, to cover ourselves with matter.
Genital display is thus a deliberate and meaningful motif in Renaissance art (e.g. Michelangelo’s statue of David, or his statue of the Risen Christ). In light of Christ, we are properly ordered in our person; lust-free; perfected. This is our ultimate destiny, and thanks to Renaissance art we get a glimpse of that which are destined for, if we but remain with Christ and allow Him to transform us in this life.
Disappearing From Sight
In our Gospel reading this weekend, we hear of the encounter the disciples on the road to Emmaus had with the Risen Christ, not recognizing who He was until at day’s end they were with Him at table. There Christ took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. As soon as Christ’s disciples recognize Him, He disappears from sight; they strain ahead to meet the Lord in the Breaking of the Bread (what we today call the Mass), for by It we are made Christ’s Body and undergo re-creation. Once we know who we are, Christ disappears, because if we are His Body we can’t see Him elsewhere.
Christ Defeated Death
Christ's defeat of death makes the entire “upside-down” of God’s kingdom viable. If there is nothing beyond this life, why should the last be first? Why should we love our enemies? How could one possibly say that we gain our lives by losing our lives?
But acknowledging this truth does not insulate us from grief, or serve as a break wall against fear. There is still pain and separation in death. Christ wept at the death of His friend, Lazarus. Christ did not say to us, “do not mourn, for there is no reason,” but rather, blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
And of fear, there is nothing quite like facing a real threat. Fear wells up involuntarily and we ask ourselves, “What do I really believe?” It is only because of faith and hope that we can move forward. Yes, there is pain and mystery ahead in this life. There is separation for a time in death. But is death the end? No. Thanks be to God, that is a lie.
David J. Conrad