There is a painting by 20th-century American artist Osvaldo Louis Guglielmi at the Milwaukee Art Museum titled “The Christening.” When I first saw it, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It’s not particularly beautiful, large, or famous. It doesn’t even show an actual baptism, as the title suggests.
Painted with stark minimalism, Guglielmi shows the moments after a baptismal ceremony. We, the viewer, standing in the shadows, spy a mother carrying her swaddled infant out the door of a drab-looking church building, while the baby’s grandfather holds the door open for her. In front of them is the baby’s father who escorts an older woman, his own mother perhaps, down the church’s front steps.Today we must ask ourselves this: What good does our care for the liturgy do us if we do not care for Lazarus just outside our door? Click To Tweet
Sitting just outside the door is an old man, eye patch over one eye, left foot shoeless exposing long-johns under frayed pants. He extends his cap toward the family in a gesture that could be either reverence for the newly-anointed or a request for spare change. Either way, each family member—even the child—responds with disdain. The father and grandmother flee from the beggar while the mother, child, and grandfather appear to retreat back into the safety of the church.
Today we must ask ourselves this: What good does our care for the liturgy do us if we do not care for Lazarus just outside our door?
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”