A Sacred Image – The Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ

You are probably thinking, the poor old fellow has made a mistake in his spelling. Shouldn’t the title read “Son” of Justice?

When I made my preliminary drawing for this sacred image (it is based on the drawings and wood carvings of Brother Martin Erspamer, O.S.B) I desired to have an appropriate name that would be attached to it. I was in the final stages of finishing the image a few weeks ago. This image was to mirror the woodcarving work of Brother Erspamer, it is not intended to be an icon or sacred image in the traditional sense of Byzantine or Latin artists.

One Tuesday evening, a few weeks ago, a passage from Evening Prayer in the Divine Office caught my attention. It was the final prayer of the early evening and it read: “Father, yours is the morning and yours is the evening. Let the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, shine for ever in our hearts and draw us to that light where you live in radiant glory.”

Sacred image copyright © 2012 Deacon Paul O. Iacono All Rights Reserved

That prayer really struck me. There was the title: Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ. The message of that passage was so appropriate for the image meant to mimic carved wood. The image directs the prayerful observer  to meditate on the truth that Jesus Christ is the Sun which, as a result of His obedient sacrifice on the holy wood of the Cross, shines in our hearts and guides us back to the Father. He is the Son of the Father, that is, the Light of the World. He is also, the Sun of Justice, in that we as individuals will all surely have His light illumine our souls and be judged by His standards.

This sacred image is a gift for our outstanding Assistant Pastor Fr. Joseph R. Upton. A wonderful priest who also serves us as the Chaplain of the Fra Angelico Institute for the Sacred Arts.

The face and garments are not  painted in the traditional way in keeping with the woodcarving methods of Bro. Erspamer, whose work inspired my drawing. Even though it is not painted using the familiar “language” or style of traditional iconography, it has meaning; and I am happy to say that when you are in its presence it does provide comfort to the soul that prays with it.

Copyright © 2012 Deacon Paul O. Iacono Essay and photos – All Rights Reserved

11 thoughts on “A Sacred Image – The Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ

  1. For those who may not know, it is worth pointing out that this title comes ultimately from Malachi 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name, the Sun of justice shall arise, and health in his wings: and you shall go forth, and shall leap like calves of the herd.” (Douay-Rheims) In the King James Version, this is rendered, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” It is probably most familiar from the lyrics of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing:

    Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
    Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
    Light and life to all He brings
    Ris’n with healing in His wings
    Mild He lays His glory by
    Born that man no more may die
    Born to raise the sons of earth
    Born to give them second birth
    Hark! The herald angels sing
    “Glory to the newborn King!”

    1. Howard,

      Thank you. I did not remember the connection to “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” hymn that we sing during the Christmas celebration. Well done!
      Also, I viewed some of your essays on your blog and found them very interesting, too.

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  3. mimi

    Thank you, Deacon, for all you incredibly hard work for the icon workshop!! The results were true prayers in paint. So i do believe that is your very own halo in your picture! i am continually amazed at how generous you are with your gifts to everyone! You are a blessed gift to us! And that is not to side step your lovely, hard working, amazing wife, Jackie! Another great blessing to us all!

    1. Mimi,
      Thank you for your very kind and generous words of support! Let us thank you, too, for the excellent sacred music that you direct and bring to the parish at every weekend liturgy. We are very grateful for your gifts, too – especially, your fabulous origami. We’ve got to get you into the next icon writing workshop!

  4. Beautiful icon and I like the title. Thanks for sharing it.

    At first, my brain thought “Son” of Justice. Then I realized you meant “Sun.” It reminded me of what Ratzinger (now Benedict) said in Spirit of the Liturgy when he wrote about celebrating the Eucharist “ad orientem”. Christ is the Sun. The Eucharist itself is the orientation of our lives.

    Incidentally, Ratzinger continues his reflection suggesting that people and priest are always facing “ad orientem,” whether the priest is facing the people or not.

    Your explanation of “Sun of Justice” brought all that to mind. Thanks!

    1. Thank you very much. Yes, the Holy Father’s book was (is) instrumental in my understanding of sacred art and its role in our liturgical life.
      Best wishes for continued success with your timely essays at your always interesting website.

  5. I was thinking about you and wondering how the iconography class went, and voila! there was a post from you about it. It is good to see your prayerful work, to read your reflections on it. Thank you for the update, and I look forward to reading more about the workshop.

    1. Thank you for your kind and supportive comments.
      Everyone who participated was very happy with the process and their results. Final varnish for my icon (which I will have more comments on) will be applied later on today. I like to make sure everything has dried at least a week (it is painted in acrylics).

      1. Acrylics? Wow! I am impressed. I am very interested in the details of how you finish it off, that is for sure. I have yet to truly complete my own acrylic icon, still fussing around with it. I am glad that you intend to comment further.

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