Christ on the Cross with Saints Vincent Ferrer, John the Baptist, Mark and Antoninus,
Painted by the Master of the Fiesole Epiphany (active circa 1450-1500),
Painted circa 1491/1495
Tempera and oil on panel
© Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest
Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
‘Father, the hour has come: glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you; and, through the power over all mankind that you have given him, let him give eternal life to all those you have entrusted to him.
‘I pray for them; I am not praying for the world but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. ‘I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one.
They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.
‘I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me. I have given them the glory you gave to me, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me and that I have loved them as much as you loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.’
Reflection on the painting
This late 15th-century Italian Renaissance painting served originally as an altarpiece in the Dominican church of San Marco in Florence. It was commissioned by the wealthy silk weavers’ guild for their altar. We see a wealth of different silks, velvets and embroidered textiles. At first glance, the painting appears to be a crucifixion scene, but it’s not. Jesus is free standing in front of a crucifix. He is portrayed as the Eternal High Priest, the feast we celebrate today.
On the first Thursday after Pentecost we celebrate the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest. The feast focuses on Jesus’ Priestly Office. He is considered the model for believers, and for the clergy in particular, with priests acting in persona Christi (“In the person of Christ”). We are thus encouraged today to pray for our priests that they would be more like Christ (the compassionate and trustworthy high priest, Hebrews 2:17).
We are all called to be more Christ-like. This can only happen when we realise that this life is just temporary and a preparation for the next life. The eternal life is what we aim for, and in that we join in Christ's vision and plans for us. Only when we are more Christ-like, more compassionate, more caring, more understanding, more generous... only then can we begin already to live our eternal life here on earth. We celebrate this feast following Pentecost, as we can't become more Christ-like unless we have the Holy Spirit to guide us. The Holy Spirit directly inspires us to nurture the character of Christ deep within all of us.
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to John 17:1-2,9,14-24
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to:
I have been following this website since its inception and love it very much. It has helped me along with other things in my return to the Faith. Today’s post is especially well done!
I don’t believe that this work its ‘old’ or ‘out of date’. This thinking is a fault of our collective belief in Modernism, Progressivism and the misguided effects of VII and the belief that The Church has to ‘change’ in order to go with the times. This has been a disaster.
The Truth is eternal. When Art reflects eternal Truth it is timeless. Art as ‘fashion’ or ‘style’ does change with the times.
Instead of adapting ‘old’ art to our modern wayward and misguided thinking we should look to the spiritual message of the eternal truth held in Catholicism in the rich history of her Art that was created with this in mind. This is what separates Religious Art from the secular art world.
God Bless and Thank You for your inspiring and beautiful ministry through art adapted to the digital age in a good way!
A beautiful painting. I sometimes wonder if the rich history of Catholic art that we have makes us seem to outsiders anchored in the past. This image is half a millennium old – does it resonate today? Especially if the viewer has no cultural sensibility. Just thinking out loud. It resonates for me!
Thank you Charles. I see what you mean…. I agree, it would probably have limited resonance nowadays with young people. I do like it though. Plenty to look at and reflect upon! ?