THINGS I HAVE LEARNED....The Tree Of Life
Our traditional Latin crucifix, exceptions noted, depicts Christ's dead body, his horrific ordeal being over. It is designed to focus our attention and contemplation on what he suffered. God's justice is served by a death sentence, not to have vengence on humankind but to bring us to our senses - a chastisement with love behind it. Latin crucifixes depict this truth. Eastern crucifixes focus on his victory on the cross. Eastern crucifixes have all the wounds, but depict Christ's Divinity shining through, so the face is sublime and the body begs us to receive the loving embrace he is offfering. Victory and Love, "unto the end", are the Word spoken here. The Resurrection marks His victory in the West, while for the East, the Resurrection proclaims the already present victory of the cross. Also, since Eastern crucifixes are icons, they must be written in such a way that Christ's Divine nature shines through. So, for the West, the horrific toll on our Savior's body and person, his Divinity hidden....in the East, Christ alive, sublime and even contemplative in his victory, which his Resurrection will announce. My effort to explain this fundamental difference fails miserably, but knowing the Eastern emphasis allows you to contemplate a whole other aspect of the great mystery of the Passion. The cross for the East is not first a form of capital punishment, but is the tree in the Garden of Eden transformed into the Tree of Life - and therein lies it's victory!