In the March 2017 issue of the Knights of Columbus magazine, “Columbia” there is an article about St. Joseph, written by Dominican Father Peter John Cameron. Accompanying the article is a painting, entitled “St. Joseph” by Pietro Annogini. It is a beautiful work of art depicting the boy Jesus along with St. Joseph in his carpentry shop. What is most startling is that the Child Jesus is portrayed as blond and white.
The Bible does not give us any physical description of Jesus. The closest description we have of Jesus is in Isaiah 53:2 that says: “There was in him, no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.” In other words, he was ordinary-looking. If it were important to us to know what Jesus looked like, Matthew, Peter, John and the other disciples who were with him for three years, would have done so. Yet the New Testament writers offer no details of his physical attributes.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph were Jews who lived about 2,000 years ago in the Middle East and most likely had dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. The Knights of Columbus should also have known that the Virgin Mary was chosen to be the Mother of God. The Holy Spirit descended upon her and she conceived through the power of the Most high. When she was obviously pregnant and still unmarried, she was accused of adultery and the people were ready to stone her. Joseph who was betrothed to her, loved her very much and did not want Mary to meet such a cruel fate. He decided he would marry her and then secretly divorce her. The rest is history. What the Knights of Columbus fail to understand is that if the people were ready to stone her because they considered her to be an adulteress, what would they have done to Mary when she presented the Child Jesus in the Temple and they immediately noticed the child was blond and white! It is such a mockery of the Bible and distorts the history of the people of the Mid-East.
What is even more puzzling is that their official magazine, “Columbia” has the blond, white Child Jesus in the middle of their magazine and a dark skinned. dark-eyed and dark-haired Christ with the crown of thorns on the cover! It would be most enlightening for all of us if the Knights could kindly explain this incredible and miraculous transformation.
Just what were the Knights thinking? Anti-Semitism has raised its ugly head again. Across “Christian” Europe, Jews are being targeted. Synagogues and Jewish graveyards have been defaced and desecrated. Jews are fleeing Europe in large numbers. Just when Pope Francis is doing his utmost to bring people together; to teach us not to fear others but to love and accept those whose skin is of a different color and whose social and cultural values are different from ours, the Knights have chosen to build a wall instead of a bridge. They have selected a painting that seems to draw a distinct line; an iron curtain that descends and separates Christian/European Caucasians from the heathens, the savages, the infidels, the Jews and the blacks.