This post is doing double duty as the art choice for February classrooms and giving more information about the holy card image in your Home Lesson packets.
I love the ways that beautiful art can teach us the truths of the Faith and lead us closer to Christ. I have a vivid memory of this image on a stained glass window at my childhood church, and I think it’s fair to say that the way it spoke to me was a more effective and lasting message than all the CCD classes I ever attended!
Light of the World was painted by William Holman Hunt in the mid-1800’s and became a popular subject for Victorian era religious devotions. It’s based on Revelation 3:20 and is filled with great symbolism for you to decode!
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
- First, it’s important to think about the symbol of the door. What does it represent? (Depending on the ages of your kids they may come up with answers ranging from “your heart” to more complex ideas involving obedience and our free will. All of those are great answers.)
- Then, the most obvious visual element in the colored version is that Christ is bringing light. Christ as the Light is a theme that is all over Scripture and the Catechism. If you light your children’s Baptismal candles occasionally, this might be a good time to remind them that Christ’s light first entered their lives at the time of their Baptism. And as you light a candle on your classroom prayer table, we hope you’re pointing out how candles at church always remind us of the presence of Christ.
- Next, notice how Christ is knocking. He certainly could be pounding on the doors to our heart – the message of salvation is urgent and nothing is more important – but instead He appears to be gently knocking. This reminds us that Jesus will never demand a place in our lives, but He is always lovingly asking us to open the door just a little wider so He can come in just a little more.
- You can see from the brush and weeds growing up next to the door that this particular door/heart has not been opened to Christ in a very long time, perhaps never. But Jesus is still out there, patiently hoping to be let in. This can be a very encouraging reminder that we can never fall so far away from Christ that He is no longer there. No matter what, He is always close by waiting for our response to His knock.
- Another less obvious feature of this piece is that there is no doorknob on the outside. Jesus will not let Himself in; the knob is on my side of the door and only I can open it to answer His invitation to me, and it’s the same for each of you as well.
There are lots of other versions of this work, but if you want to get a closer look at the best of them, follow the link to the highest resolution version of the colored original either here or here or you can get a bigger version of the black and white print by just right-clicking on it to copy.