Michelangelo’s creation of Adam doesn’t seem to fit the Lord’s words we hear in our first reading today from Isaiah.
I am the LORD, your God,
who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I will help you.”
Fear not, O worm Jacob,
O maggot Israel;
I will help you, says the LORD;
your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Michelangelo’s Adam, hardly a worm or maggot, could be an ad for a modern health spa. He represents the Renaissance ideal of human power and beauty. Hardly someone with fears, he might be today a picture of a confident, flourishing humanity.
So why does God reach out to touch him, since he seems to have everything? Could his nakedness indicate a nakedness within, a spiritual emptiness, a need for meaning that only God, the Creator, can give.
Describing Michelangelo’s reimagining of the Genesis story, an early biographer and friend Ascanio Condivi, said: “with his hand God is seen as giving Adam the precepts for what he should do and not do.”
Is that what we ask for this Advent when we celebrate the coming of the Word, Jesus Christ? “Renew our minds and hearts, Lord. Teach us how to live and what to do.”