I had the pleasure of covering the masses at Our Lady of Grace in Indian Land, SC for the feast of the Epiphany. As I was preparing for my homily a painting came to mind, which I falsely refer to as a Rembrandt, I actually meant Caravaggio who is considered a master of Chiaroscuro.
Chiaroscuro is a style of painting that displays extreme contrasts between light and dark, and the use of large sections of dark contrasted with minimal light is called Tenebrism. Artists who paint in this style are known as Caravaggisti. One such artist was Gerard van Honthorst, a Dutch Golden Age painter, whose three separate paintings of the adoration of the Christ child are what I was thinking about: two different Adoration of the Shepherds (one of which I assumed to be the Adoration of the Magi) and a third of the Adoration of the Children. I have included one of his Adoration of the Shepherds as the featured image for this post.
The point of the homily still stands even if I mentioned the wrong artist. Christ fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear. (Gaudium et Spes, 22) In particular, as we form our internal sense of self – identity – Christ must serve as the primary ordering principle of the self. Our experiences, memories, desires, and actions must each be contextualized within our belief that we were loved into being and are called to intimate interpersonal union with God through Christ His Son and by means of the Holy Spirit. This belief cannot be so transcendent that it becomes inaccessible. Every day we need to call to mind that we are loved for who we are, that there is nothing we can do to make God stop loving us, and that He desires us to be with Him for eternity while providing everything necessary to get there.