April 10, 2020 6:19 pm

Holy Week-Part 1
I was asked by the local ministerial association to join them in providing a Good Friday/Holy Week reflection. In my presentation (which you can view at the site listed below), I thanked the many health professionals who have been our “pastors” who have shepherded us during this pandemic. They have been and will continue to be, front-line workers who put their lives at risk for us. I said that our parish faith-community is beholden to them.

In thinking of “Holy Week,” it occurred to me that it might be a misnomer in that every week is “holy.” The connotation of the word “holy” often enough evokes images of medieval monks in dark cathedrals with stern-looking faces. Even photos of John Paul II, an icon of holiness for some, is frequently pictured with a grim visage. The same applies to Black Elk. No picture of him exists that shows him laughing or smiling (even though he was well known among his people for being a heyoka or humorous clown-like character). In photos, the “holy-man” is always very solemn-looking (as has been the traditional way Jesus has been depicted).

However, one of the most popular images of Jesus today is a painting of him laughing. It has been used or adapted by countless Christian organizations, as well as some non-Christian groups. There are now many versions of the “Laughing Jesus” all over the Internet, most of them based on the original image of a long-haired man, with his head thrown back in full-throated laughter.

The original painting was called “Jesus Christ, Liberator,” not “Laughing Jesus” or “Laughing Christ.” The painting was one of four commissioned by the United Church of Canada in 1973 (or earlier). The Church eventually sold the rights to the Paulist priests in San Francisco.
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