“And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
— Matthew 16:18
In the illumination of Peter’s Confession, my eyes are drawn to the lower left of the page, where blue scrawls canvas the fiery orange hue. It is the artist’s depiction of a modern-day experience of hell. These are not random strokes. Together, they form a microscopic view of the AIDs virus.
This week, I can’t help but think of what else could be depicted.
The idiom “all hell breaks loose” doesn’t seem far from reality these days. Violence is plaguing communities around the world, from Ferguson, Missouri to Libya and Iraq. Its pain hit particularly close to home on Tuesday, when a fellow Marquette University alumnus was brutally murdered nearly two years after being kidnapped in Syria. Journalist James Foley and countless other innocent victims are losing their lives to violence every day.
My rational mind can’t make sense of any of it, so I turned to art — not for answers, but for comfort.
See the area to the right of the horse’s head where the gold intersects the fiery hue? That miniscule mix of color gives me hope. It shows me Christ is not removed from this modern-day vision of hell.
He’s right there in it.
This illumination reminds me that Christ is with us through our own experiences of suffering. He’s with us through the violence. He’s with us through the grief and confusion. Christ is alive in our broken world, a constant sign that the evils of today will never prevail against God’s loving kingdom.
With Christ as our rock, let’s pray for peace.
Jessie Bazan is a Master of Divinity candidate at Saint John’s School of Theology-Seminary and serves as the Seeing the Word graduate assistant.
Peter’s Confession, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.