Cherry-blossom Viewing (On-hanami), from the series Chiyoda Inner Palace (Chiyoda no Ôoku),
Painted by Toyohara Chikanobu (1838-1912),
Painted in 1894,
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and colour on paper
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Wikimedia
The healing at the pool of Bethesda
There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed – waiting for the water to move. One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, ‘Do you want to be well again?’ ‘Sir,’ replied the sick man ‘I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.’ Jesus said, ‘Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.’ The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away.
Now that day happened to be the sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, ‘It is the sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.’ He replied, ‘But the man who cured me told me, “Pick up your mat and walk.”’ They asked, ‘Who is the man who said to you, “Pick up your mat and walk”?’ The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared into the crowd that filled the place. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, ‘Now you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.’ The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the sabbath that the Jews began to persecute Jesus.
Reflection on the Japanese Woodblock Triptych
Today is the first day of Spring. Our Japanese triptych woodblock print depicts court ladies viewing cherry blossoms in an expansive park, with Mount Fuji in the distance. On the left, several of the women play blind man's bluff, while others simply stroll under the blossoming trees. The importance of Spring blossom in Japanese culture is seen in the custom of Hanami, or cherry viewing, in which parties head out to see the blossom and picnic amongst the trees. Our artist, Chikanobu, was one of the great artist of the Meiji era which ran from 1868 to 1912.
For this first day of Spring our Gospel reading tells the story of the healing at the pool of Bethesda. Every healing Jesus does brings about Spring into the soul of the healed and the bystanders witnessing the miracle. For us Christians, Spring is a reminder that God is all about making things new. In fact, Jesus promised to make everything new one day (Revelation 21:5).
The man who was healed at the pool of Bethesda experienced exactly this. He felt renewed: everything felt like new to him and he could explore the world now in different ways, being able to walk. The lame man’s consistent presence at the pool of Bethesda over many years proved his faith, a faith that then brought about his healing and Spring in his soul.
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Readings related to John 5:1-3,5-16
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It’s like going through Lent, then the Triduum, an finally the Spring of Easter.
Hoy, 21 de Marzo, para nosotros, empieza el otoño.🍁🍂
Cómo me gustaría hacer picnic debajo de esos cerezos en flor. 🍒Un santo pasatiempo.⛱️
Así es, en Argentina las estaciones opuestas al sur del ecuador.
Such artistry here! Yes, conventional and stylised but a culture that spends time picnicing under cherry blossom? We have much to learn!
Jesus disappears into the crowd and then meets the man again later, a recurring motif in John’s Gospel?
Also, teaches patience I think. The man waited a long time in patience for healing. We have waited through a long miserable winter for spring. Hope!
Wow. Gorgeous picture.
The promise of Jesus; I make all things new.
Japanese culture is so removed from the west that it is difficult to understand. This painting is very artificial and stylised – clearly realism is yet to make its effect felt here. The painting is technically excellent but emotionally fairly empty with no characterisation or social insight. Negative thoughts and I’m sure others will defend it.
The picture does illustrate the coming beautyof Spring.
Spring is sprung!!
Beautiful choice for the first day of Spring. Thank you!