Friday, March 2, 2007

Jesus knocking at the door... who will let him in? This image reminded me first of the story of Hermes and Zeus traveling around together, looking for shelter from mortals. In one story they are given shelter by an old couple Baucis and Philemon * (see below) who live in a humble dwelling. After their stay, Hermes and Zeus reward them by making them rich. Well, we know how Jesus felt about rich people.

But I think some of the old Greek myth is coming through here in this image. And that's how I feel about a lot of the church's imagery and stories. That old local stories crept in (or were borrowed/taken) to the early Church to make the new religion more understandable, or maybe more comfortable. There was plenty about the new religion that was UNcomfortable. Lots of well-established ideas were discredited by Jesus and his followers. So having conversion stories that incorporated something known and understandable was probably a big help.

In the image, the outside of the house is not welcoming - there are big thorn bushes. Is there a light on? Or is Jesus emanating his own light? What kind of reception will Jesus find? What kind of reward is waiting for the people who live there, if any?
* A thousand homes they came to seeking rest; a thousand homes were barred against them; yet one welcomed them, tiny indeed, and thatched with reeds and straw; but in that cottage Baucis, old and good, and old Philemon (he as hold as she) had joined their lives in youth, grown old together, and eased their poverty by bearing it contentedly and thinking it no shame. It was vain to seek master and servant there; they two were all the household, to obey and to command. So when the heavenly ones reached their small home and, stooping, entered in at the low door... - Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.618

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