In the tradition of the Old Testament, God appears many times as a great
and all-powerful God able to work unimaginable wonders,
especially when it comes to saving, protecting and providing for his people.However,
the sight of God and of his presence was most of the times - for the People of Israel -
a terrifying experience.
So, what has happened for the author of the letter to the Hebrews to be able to say:
“Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help”?
With no doubts: that he has encountered the person of Jesus Christ.
Not that the people of Israel had the wrong perception of God,
or that God had changed in any way.
But that, against all expectations, the great and all-powerful God of the Old Testament has – in the person of Jesus Christ— leaned all the way down to us to the point of becoming one like us sharing even the consequences of our sins.
Very few people have been able to depict such an encounter with God better that Rembrandt. In his oil painting ‘The Prodigal Son’ – of which we have a copy at the west end of our Church – he depicted the father with a left male hand and a right female hand, symbolizing both God’s power as well as his tenderness.
In the painting the father embraces his wretched son with both hands but, unlike in the gospel story, there is no noise of music, no rows, no complaints from the older son. Instead they all remain silent and still,
for they can do nothing other than to contemplate this awe-inspiring sight.
Fr Daniel Herrero