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Lenten Reflections 2024: 3rd Sunday of Lent

Lenten Reflections 2024 graphi

Dear friends,

For this third Sunday of Lent, as we continue to pair art from our partners at the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art with prayerful reflections from members of our community, Michael Szopiak, associate program director with the Center for STEM Education, reflects on Bound Christ (Ecco Homo).

We hope that this cross-campus partnership offers us all a welcomed space to practice Visio Divina, or sacred seeing, and through the lens of art consider this Lenten season anew. We recommend taking time to visit the Museum in person to encounter and connect to the art in a deeply meaningful way.

May God continue to bless you, your communities, and your families in this holy season of Lent.

~ The Institute for Educational Initiatives and the Alliance for Catholic Education


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Image of Bound Christ (Ecce Homo)
Bound Christ (Ecce Homo)
Giacomo Manzù (Italian, 1908-1991), Bound Christ (Ecce Homo), 1951, Bronze, 62 ¼ x 17 ½ x 14 in. Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame. Lilly Foundation Programming Endowment for Religion and Spirituality in the Visual Arts, 2021.008

"Behold, the man!"
Reflection offered by Michael Szopiak, associate program director with the Center for STEM Education

My attention is first drawn to his hands, bound with rope that hangs loosely around his waist. He appears as a captive or prisoner, slight in stature and standing in stillness. As I reflect, I find myself caught up in his stillness, caught between the starkness of the injustice he suffers and the steady countenance he bears. He is cast as somehow emblematic of our shared humanity, portraying the evidence of our human malice as well as our human dignity. While the uniform bronze universalizes his humanity, it is the fine details — the arch of his brow, the protrusion of his clavicle — that represents his particularity as a person.

The sculpture bears his name; he is the Bound Christ. The ensuing Latin phrase echoes the words of Pontius Pilate presenting Jesus to the crowd in the praetorium, scourged and crowned with thorns: “Behold, the man!” (Jn 19:5). It is appropriate during this week in Lent to place myself here before the bound Christ, for it is within the light of his gaze that I might come to see my own daily faults — my willful or careless complicity in the hurt of others — and, confronted with this truth, seek to turn my heart. This Sunday in Lent begins a sequence of rites known as the ‘scrutinies’ that occur during Masses with adults preparing for Christian initiation into the Catholic Church at Easter. These rites and the Scripture readings invite the entire Church community to encounter the bound Christ and, in doing so, to acknowledge our own bondage to sin.

Yet Christian hope is found precisely here. On Christ, the rope that binds him also intimates a loosening from that bondage. When we behold the man, we are beholding him who takes away the sins of the world. Through his passion, death, and resurrection, our Savior has set us free to live — no longer bound to our sinfulness, but with “the love of God [that] has been poured out into our hearts” (Rom 5:5).