Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Art Lessons

In the first reading today as we continue through the book if revelation we get one of the sources for the four symbols commonly used to represent the evangelists.

The first creature resembled a lion, the second was like a calf,the third had a face like that of a man, and the fourth looked like an eagle in flight.

While sources differ, commonly they are listed as

Matthew represented by the Man
Mark represented by the Lion
Luke represented by a Bull or Ox
John represented by the Eagle

I would be easy to provide here simplistic explanations for the meaning, but then they stop being symbols. As opposed to road signs that have clear single meanings, (eg. Stop, Yield), we use symbols when their are multiple layers of meaning that cannot be easily captured in words.

How often do people dismiss something by saying,"It was a symbolic gesture." As Catholics we understand that symbols matter. Symbolic language can often communicate more than verbal language. As we prepare to move into the Advent and Christmas Seasons, now is a good time to look carefully at the symbols in our lives.