Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Titan versus the Christ Child

The other day I found myself standing next to and contemplating a little statue of the Infant of Prague.  Have you ever noticed the orb with the cross that He holds in His hand?  It represents the whole world, of which He is King and Lord.  Earthly monarchs also have orbs surmounted by crosses as part of their royal regalia.  There is one in the British crown jewels.  It is a reminder to them of Who is really in charge.    

Photo by Petr Šleich

In classical mythology, there is another figure with an orb: Atlas, the titan who, having been defeated in war by the Olympians, was condemned to hold up the heavens.

So on the one hand, we have gigantic, muscular Atlas, straining every sinew to hold up just the heavens, crushed under the weight of his load.  On the other hand, we have the tiny, apparently weak Christ Child, effortlessly carrying all of creation in the palm of His little hand.  And not only is He not close to being crushed beneath the weight of it; He still has a free hand with which to extend His blessing.

There is a lot to meditate on in the contrast between these two images, from the macro to the micro.  It is the difference between man-made religions and the true Catholic faith, between false gods and the one True God.  It is the difference between mankind straining and striving to do his own will, and God’s will effortlessly moving everything from galactic superclusters to subatomic particles and beyond.  It is the difference between me trying to manage just one of my own affairs, and God’s providence easily and sweetly disposing of every aspect of my life, down to the smallest detail, if I would only allow it.

One doesn’t like to leap to conclusions, but there is probably some sort of lesson in this.     

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