On this day, we remember the unjust murder of an innocent man. And he wasn’t innocent in just a legal way, or even a “religious commandment” sort of way. He was innocent in a child way, an infant way.  Though a grown man, with a man’s strength and a great scholar’s mind (of course he was a genius!), he was as trusting and open and wondering as a child.

In some Central and South American countries, it’s not unusual to signify Jesus’s abiding innocence in the form of the Christ Child crucified, as in a beloved sculpture from Guatemala.1 Here, the tenderest of flesh is pierced and bruised, and a cherubic head, with broad, soft cheeks cries bitter, lacquered tears.

Indeed, in the very heart of God there is a trusting, childlike love that is both primevally wise (oh, crushingly ancient!), yet naively, exuberantly new. So it was that when Christ died on the cross he was like a most innocent, trusting babe: confused by his pain, abashed by his lonesomeness, dazed by others’ blame and indifference. Yet through it all he still yearned – he still melted – with helpless, questioning love for his executioners.

And worst of all – worst by far – was the silence of his Father. What a Father he had known! Deep and wise and winking: a mirroring Child Heart from before all the ages. It was under his Father’s gaze that everything made sense. Where had that gaze gone now? Where were those shining and rectifying eyes?

Eloi, Eloi…

Daddy don’t you
Remember me?
We go way back.

From forever and forever.
Remember?

You showed me small things
In your hands;
I touched with
Wondering fingers.

We saw lights reflected in
Each other’s eyes
And nowhere else.

Daddy, remember my face?
It was dear to you once.
It made you smile unbidden,
Wide and bright,
And I couldn’t help
Smiling back.

I saw you from across the empyrean
And my heart leapt.

It was joy to
Bursting
To be together and apart
All at once
So that we could always
Be moving
Toward,
Always.

Daddy, don’t you
Remember me?

Footnotes

  1. http://cofrades.sevilla.abc.es/photo/rostro-del-nino-jesus

Katie Kresser

Seattle Pacific University
Katie Kresser is Professor of Art History at Seattle Pacific University.