If in Church you ever see a winged cow or lion and think, “What’s that all about?” Here is a short primer on the symbols and why they are used.
Lion: Mark starts with John the Baptist “crying out in the wilderness” the association has been made by some between that voice of John and the roar of the lion. Also Mark is associated with the lion because the lion was rumored to sleep with one eye open, a connection with the Resurrection. Lastly, the lion is seen as a “king of the animal kingdom”, and Christ is our king. The lion is also courageous, and Christians will need courage to follow Christ
Human: Matthew is depicted as a human because he begins his Gospel with a genealogy. Jesus is also portrayed very humanly, he is clearly God incarnated, not just God pretending to be human. This helps us to relate to Jesus, knowing that He was truly human just as we are human.
The Ox: The ox is associated with the Gospel of Luke. The ox is seen as a symbol of sacrifice, service, and strength. We Christians should be prepared to sacrifice of ourselves for others as Christ did.
The Eagle: The Eagle was thought to be able to stare straight into the sun. John explains things on a “higher” level than the Synoptic Gospels. The eagle also represents the Ascension of Jesus and His divine nature. For Christians today, we are called to look towards eternity without flinching as we move towards our ultimate union with God.