The Passion of the Invisible Christ
Pause a few moments and reflect on this painting by the distinguished Colombian artist Fernando Botero from his Via Crucis of an excessively fat Jesus carrying his cross. This is today’s new Way of the Cross for those countless who are overweight and for the 1 out of 3 Americans who are now obese! No one enjoys being fat, so those who are must daily walk the sorrowful way of the cross of embarrassment. If your weight is normal, do you experience prejudice both conscious and unconscious toward those who are not?
With which of the two figures in this painting do you identify: the suffering, overweight Jesus carrying his cross or the green-uniformed officer? If you have struggled unsuccessfully to lose weight, you will likely identify with the obese Jesus. If you experience a dislike or aversion for those who are overly fleshy, then you’re likely to see yourself in the guard beating Jesus.
When Botero was asked why he painted people who are fat and with exaggerated bodies he replied, “An artist is attracted to certain kinds of form without knowing why. You adopt a position intuitively; only later do you attempt to rationalize or even justify it.” Intuitively—without needing to ask—is perhaps how those who are overweight are instinctively judged critically instead of seen with compassion.
Jesus said we were to see and find him in the poor and imprisoned. Should we not also do the same for those suffering the passion of being overweight or obese?