give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved
you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are
my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
This year through Lent I have been encountering God
afresh through the Lviv School of Iconographers. And on this Maundy Thursday, I
want to share three works by Ivanka Demchuk. For me, the theme running through
them is feet, as an expression of how we are called to love one another.
The first image is The Still Point. This is an
icon of the Holy Family, and it depicts Jesus’ first steps. He is released by his
father, who is wearing his cloak and sandals, as the Israelites were instructed
to do when eating the Passover meal, in readiness to head out into the night.
He is making his way, on chubby infant legs, to his mother, whose arms are
outstretched to receive him, to envelop him. The One through whom all things
were created humbles himself to be taught how to use his body, how to move
through time and space.
The second image is The Shroud. This is an icon
of the Epitaphios, of the dead Christ laid out on a shroud, ready for
preparation for burial. Whereas Jesus’ mother and her companions, and even the
four Evangelists, one in each corner, are often depicted, here Jesus is alone.
His body is taut—rigor mortis is setting in—and every sinew in his feet
stands out. Feet recently anointed by Mary, in preparation for this moment, as
Jesus himself would go on to wash the feet of Peter and the other disciples (presumably
including Judas, who would die concurrently with him).
The third image is On the Way to Emmaus. Here
we see Jesus approaching two disciples, coming alongside those who are
distraught, who move through time and space as precariously as a toddler and
with even less awareness. The feet in this icon are tiny, do not look as if
they could carry the weight of a man, of a life. And yet once again they reveal
great love, for one lost to death, for two lost and wandering sheep who need to
be found and brought back to the sheepfold.
Who taught you to walk? To walk in a literal, physical
sense; and to walk in the ways of the Lord? Living or dead, take a moment to thank
God for them.
Who is preparing you to face the days that lie ahead?
And who are you encouraging?
Who walks alongside you, through whom Christ may be
revealed in fleeting moments, and gives you strength to carry on?
This is what it means to love one another. By this
shall everyone know that we have been with Jesus, that we follow him on his