Such Was His Intention

…Many a reader may recognize himself in the questionings doubts and fears of Joseph; he may feel that, like Joseph, he is sitting on the periphery of the action, brooding, puzzled and apparently excluded from a story in which he seems to have no place. Let anyone who feels like this be assured that he has understood the language of the icons remarkably well. The questioning figure of Joseph demonstrates something that is typical of icons: the icon does not represent a world that is closed off and which the observer approaches from outside, as a stranger. The picture is open; the onlooker has his own place in the picture; he has a part to play in it and is drawn into the action. It does not intend to represent a past event that is finished and concluded; it wants to draw the observer into an action that is living and present. In the person of Joseph we are summoned to give up our self-centered brooding and let ourselves be drawn into the mystery that is beyond our comprehension: that God has become man.