French artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) painted over 800 paintings during his lifetime. His paintings are filled with beautifully-drawn women from classical literature and familiar Bible stories. Each subject is perfectly fashioned to express an artistic vision for women filled with sentimentality that becomes tangible as they realistically emerge from the canvas. A teacher of women artists, Bouguereau later becomes their advocate using his influence to lobby for their admission into art institutions dominated by their male counterparts. In this way, Jesus challenges the social norms of the time by appearing first to Mary Magdalene allowing her to become the “Apostle to the Apostles,” and so it seems right to feature his work in these reflections of the Resurrection.
By placing the Virgin Mary with the Christ child in a scene full of spring flowers, Bouguereau gives us a vision of Jesus being reborn, blessing us with his power and his presence. Having not yet made the connection between the Annunciation and the Resurrection, I had never associated the Virgin Mary with the Easter season and yet it seemed appropriate to me when I am reminded of God’s original promise to Satan after his deception of Adam and Eve:
I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed, he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15, NIV).
With the resurrection of Jesus, God is bringing these words into full bloom. With Christ return to life, Satan is defeated and in this way Mary gives birth to a new creation.
Edward Sri in Walking with Mary explains:
She is the new Eve, the woman whose long-awaited son will defeat the devil and fulfill the prophecy of Genesis.
The white trumpet shaped lily, commonly placed in scenes at the Annunciation to represent purity and virginal love, are now symbolically placed at the Resurrection as these surprisingly hardy yet magnificent flowers become visual heralds announcing the good news.
We pause to consider how we might see Jesus’ Resurrection everyday….
I encourage you to seek Jesus in new ways with open eyes and an open heart to the world around you.
See him in the sunrise that announces a fresh day full of possibilities as you rise. Begin to see Jesus being born again in the hopes and dreams of others. See him as you notice someone stepping out of his or her comfort zone. Perhaps you will see Jesus in that struggling person who begins to walk with a new confidence in their step. Think of him when an elderly parent has renewed strength and revived good health, or see him in a young student’s eyes as they first shine with an enthusiasm for learning.
Yes, Jesus is resurrected every day, all around you, and his song of victory never ceases to give us cause for joy. As we continue to grow in our ability to see him every day, let us fill our hearts with this song of hope every day of the year.
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118: 22-24).
God’s peace be with you:)
Christ is Risen!
[i] Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, Edward Sri p.127, pub. IMAGE, New York, 2013