The Virgin Adoring the Host,
Painted by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867),
Painted in 1852,
Oil on canvas
© Metropolitan Museum, New York
Jesus took the bread and gave it to them
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. It was by the Sea of Tiberias, and it happened like this: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.
It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in. The disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ At these words ‘It is the Lord’, Simon Peter, who had practically nothing on, wrapped his cloak round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples came on in the boat, towing the net and the fish; they were only about a hundred yards from land.
As soon as they came ashore they saw that there was some bread there, and a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore, full of big fish, one hundred and fifty-three of them; and in spite of there being so many the net was not broken. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples was bold enough to ask, ‘Who are you?’; they knew quite well it was the Lord. Jesus then stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after rising from the dead.
Reflection on the painting
In our Gospel reading we hear how the disciples returned to their daily jobs after the Resurrection. A few years before, they had left their fishing nets to follow Jesus, and now that their friend was gone, they simply wanted to return to their daily activities. However, things were about to change again. The risen Christ was awaiting them on the shore and would renew his call to follow him… but now in a different way.
Jesus started this new chapter in the lives of the disciples by the breaking of bread beside the Sea of Galilee. He did the same thing when he appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. The breaking of bread, the Eucharist, is the start and the centre of our mission.
Just like the disciples, we tend to go back to our past, to what we are familiar with. Jesus however calls us to start each day afresh, moving forward with renewed energy.
No-one understood the sacrifice of the Eucharist and her mission better than Mary. This small devotional painting (16" x 13"; 40.3 x 32.7 cm) is a little gem. Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres painted Our Lady in a prayerful pose, looking at the body of Christ and the sacred chalice. As she witnessed the sacrifice of her son up close, she is best placed to help us prepare for receiving the Eucharist.
In the words of Saint Maximillian Kolbe: “There is no better preparation for Holy Communion other than offering it to the Immaculate … She will prepare our heart in the best way possible, and we will be sure to give Jesus the greatest of joys and to show him the greatest of loves. After Holy Communion let us pray to the Immaculate once more, so that she herself may welcome Jesus into our soul and make him happy as no one ever before has been able to do.”
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