As we prepare to celebrate the Night of our Savior’s coming, let us take some time to contemplate the mystery of salvation as artistically represented by the Advent paintings done by the Jesuits in Hekima College (Kenya). This year, Hekima Jesuit Community, under the leadership of Fr. John Ghansah S.J., has decided to celebrate the Advent Season through graphic art, thanks to the expertise of two Jesuit scholastics – Patrick Taban (from South Sudan) and Ernesto Graciano (from Mozambique) – who have undertaken to work on four interconnected paintings to capture not only various Advent motifs but also the movement of the Christian community toward the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first painting, it will be recalled, represented the Trinity’s contemplation of the earth, an insight appropriated from the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. The second painting, entitled the Fiat, is an introduction to the Second Week of the Season of Advent. The third painting, instead, is entitled Fecundity. The painting for the Third Week draws its inspiration from the “Rejoice” (Gaudete) motif of the Third Sunday of Advent. The expectant joy of the birth of the Savior intensifies. The fourth and last painting focuses on the imminent birth of the Lord.
Honore Onana Olah spoke to Fr Wilfred Sumani, SJ, Hekima’s resident liturgist, who, during this journey, has provided commentary on all the paintings. In three points, Fr Sumani outlines the key theological points of this fourth painting through which we can deepen and prepare ourselves to receive the Lord who comes to save us:
In Heaven: The sun rises on the horizon and lights up one side of the Mountain. On the other side of the Mountain, the weather remains cloudy and rainy.
On Earth: A messenger (blowing a horn) announces the census. Mary and Joseph are on a bicycle heading to a Judean town in the hill country, Joseph’s home town. They take a narrow and winding path. The farmer’s seed has germinated, while the branch on the ‘Stump of Jesse’ has grown and is decked with flower buds.
Under the Earth: The human skeleton has completely recovered its flesh; however, the breath of life has not yet been restored to the body. In the water, the fish has laid eggs.
Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Through Christ our Lord (Collect, Fourth Sunday of Advent).