Viewpoint

Robert Cumming was not the first art critic to be puzzled by Filippino Lippi’s famous 15th century painting Virgin and Child. It depicts Mary cradling the infant Jesus on her knee with two saints, Dominic and Jerome, praying in the foreground. But the picture’s perspective seems all wrong. The hills in the background look as if they might topple out of the picture, Jerome and Dominic seem awkward and uncomfortable, and Mary seems to be staring at no one in particular.

But then Cumming realised that the painting was never meant to hang in a gallery but was intended as an aid to prayer. Lippi assumed that those viewing the picture would be kneeling, and it was when Cumming fell to his knees that he finally saw the details of the picture in their proper perspective. 

Too often we make a similar mistake in trying to comprehend the nature of God. We view him from our perspective as if somehow, he was our equal. But if we could understand God in this way then he would not be God. It’s only when we are willing to fall on our knees in worship and look up, that we will see him as he truly is. 

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