Updated: Dec 1, 2019
There's something that appears to carry an air of snobbery when someone casually tromps by magnificent giant portraits of Renaissance elites without more than a slight glance. But the horror I felt when I did this to "The Massacre of the Innocents" while visiting the Early Rubens Exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario recently. . . Well, it stopped me short. So I went back to contemplate.
This masterpiece portraying a difficult story ultimately left me speechless and emotional. And although the play-along audio described the meaning of the painting as being about the corruption of the greed for power, I imagined the fear that the corrupt leader, Herod, must have experienced, to be driven to order such a hit against innocent babies and loving mothers.
What proud, greedy, or fearful notions do I have that end up disregarding innocence or slapping rightness in the face? I often justify why I ignore this or that. Do you? What is the threat that looms darkly in our hearts?
The hard ironic reality is, that this little baby Jesus who escaped to safety while his peers were slaughtered, ended up ruling my own heart through his love and sacrifice. And perhaps the ultimate threat we feel is the submission demanded of us to accept the love God has for each of us -- For this would be an admission that our lives are unmanageable without Him. We need not be so proud as to think we can order killing the idea that perhaps -- we -- need -- God.
Art moves me when I stop long enough to notice and ponder it.
You can see the painting in colour here.
Rubens "Massacre fo the Innocents" 1611-12