This is a painting by Emmanuel Garibay from the Philippines. It was a part of an exhbition of paintings of “Jesus Laughing and Loving” that was commissioned by Harry Wallace from Australia who has a long Association with the Iona Community here in Scotland. We hosted the exhibition at Greyfriars in Edinburgh in 2004 and it toured around the UK for the next 3 years.
Emmaunel describes his work as “Radical Christology”. Christianity entered the Philippines clinging to the coat tails of Imperial expansion. The Church was associated with power and social control, always an instrument in the hands of the powerful and the oppressor. As Garibay puts it, “In the Philippines the Church is a colonial institution. It represents God as a Supreme Overlord and as a white Caucasian male”. The church carried with it, however, a story of a man who constantly opposed the religious authority of his day, an outsider who sided with the weak and the displaced. The irony is that the colonial power carried with it as one its tools, the Bible, a manifesto that gave inspiration to a movement of liberation from the hands of the oppressor.
Here Christ is reprented as a woman, a woman of the street, sharing a funny story with these two men on the road to Emmaus. Garibay’s view is that there is a distinction between faith and church, that Jesus often opposed religiosity and that faith is often difficult to make sense of until it is contextualised within a particular culture. So Jesus is here represented as a very ordinary woman, a very Philippino woman because often ”real liturgy takes place outside the Church”. As the men share the hospitality of the table, they realise their mistake and there is laughter at the realisation of who their guest is. That is liturgy.