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~The Verbal Icon of Christ~

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posted on Dec, 16 2003 @ 06:54 AM
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The verbal icon of Christ is an inspired historical, theological, and literary achievement.
Like a visual icon, this one too challenges and invites us to know the truth, that is, to know Him who is truth, who spoke and testified to truth.
Both the visual and verbal icons answer in colors or words the question, "Who is Jesus?" Both of them owe their existence to the condescension of god that makes allowance for human limitations by using the colors of daily life or by employing language that is culturally conditioned.
The reality that these icons conveyed breaks through human colors and languages.

Christ appears to us in three distinct icons.
First, there are his visual icons, which adorn and illumine our churches and homes.
The icons of holy men and women are icons of Christ as well, for in their lives they aimed only to "become Christs in Jesus Christ." When we venerate the saints, we glorify their Master at the same time, because they were his disciples. By following and committing themselves to him they became "christs."

We also have a third icon, the verbal icon of Christ, which is depicted in the four Gospels. Like the painted icons, which are presented in the colors of daily life, in "earthen vessels," the verbal icon comes to us in the languages of various cultures, manifesting the power of the risen and ascended Lord as well as leading us to a heavenly reality.

These icons, whether visual or verbal, affirm the fact of the incarnation, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory as of the Son from the Father" (Jn 1:14).
God became man, revealing Himself and the true destiny of human beings in the person of Jesus Christ. Divine life is given to become the life of man.
We have icons of him because He assumed a human body and was seen, heard, looked upon, and touched "with our hands" (I Jn 1:1ff).

He has been experienced in the community of believers. So when we venerate the visual or verbal icons of Christ, we adore neither the color nor the letter but the one who became man, for our sake and for our salvation


Christ's humiliation (kenosis) and His glorification make both icons possible. This is the content of the apostolic hymn which St. Paul included in Philippians 2:6-11:

Christ Jesus, though He was in the form of God,
did not not count equality with God a thing to be
grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of
a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And
being found in human form He humbled Himself
and became obedient unto death, even death on
a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him the name which is above
every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee
should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the
earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ
is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This hymn expressed the faith and confession of the Church that the crucified Jesus is one and the same person with the incarnate, resurrected, and ascended Lord. The icon of Christ, both in its visual and verbal form, comes as the fruit of this faith and becomes the enduring witness to the personal continuity of the humiliated and glorified Christ.

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