Orphans,
Painting by Thomas Benjamin Kennington (1856-1915),
Painted in 1885,
Oil on canvas
© Tate Britain, London

Orphans,
Painting by Thomas Benjamin Kennington (1856-1915),
Painted in 1885,
Oil on canvas
© Tate Britain, London

Gospel of 17 April 2024

Whoever believes in the Son shall have eternal life

John 6:35-40

Jesus said to the crowd:

'I am the bread of life.

He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst. But, as I have told you, you can see me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I shall not turn him away; because I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of the one who sent me.

Now the will of him who sent me is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me, and that I should raise it up on the last day. Yes, it is my Father's will that whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and that I shall raise him up on the last day.'

Reflection on the painting

Recently I came across this true story  which can perhaps somehow help us understand today's reading a little better. It is about an event that happened during World war II. When Europe was being freed from Nazi occupation at the end of the war, there was still terrible hunger. The allied forces grouped many starving orphans together in camps where they would be fed and looked after. Even though they were lovingly cared for, the orphans hardly slept at night. Psychologists were brought to the camps and what transpired is that the orphans were anxious because they feared they would wake up again with no food. The allied forces running the camps then gave the orphans a piece of bread that the children could sleep with at night. The children were told the bread was just to be held and not eaten. The results were amazing. All the kids slept well from then onwards. The guarantee that they would wake up to food calmed their fears and made them fully trust they were now in good hands….

In our Gospel reading Jesus is telling is that he is the bread of life, always there alongside us. That thought should comfort us and also calm our fears.

Our painting depicts orphans. Painted in 1885 by Thomas Benjamin Kennington, it shows two young boys, seated on the floor, without furniture. Their plate is chipped, with only a tiny piece of bread remaining. Their feet are dirty, as they probably have no money to buy shoes. A bit of hay on the left of the painting suggests that they don't have a proper bed to sleep in, but have to make do with the most basic of sleeping settings, some hay. Their clothes are torn and worn. Despite all this, there is great affection and tenderness between the two boys, probably brothers: they are obviously caring for one another. Kennington was one of the founder members of the New English Art Club in 1886, and its first Secretary. He was well known for his compelling pictures of the urban poor, although he also painted less emotive scenes from everyday life and portraits. The rich colouring, smooth handling of paint, and subject were probably inspired by the work of the seventeenth-century Spanish artist Murillo, who also painted poor children.

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Caroline Beck
Member
Caroline Beck
1 month ago

Reading other people’s comments on here regarding sleep I really do need a full night’s sleep tonight, your prayers are much needed and will be so much appreciated. Please God!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
1 month ago
Reply to  Caroline Beck

Prayers are being offered up right now Caroline for a good sleep for you!

Caroline Beck
Member
Caroline Beck
1 month ago

I am filled with awe at the very pure goodness of Our Lord and of the promises he gave to us. I have been battling with a serious dilemma during the course of the last few days. At times I felt helpless and hopeless, searching for a way forward and giving all my fears up to God in prayer as often as possible. My faith in Jesus Christ has been rewarded and today has delivered me a positive way forward! Thank you with all of my heart Our Lord Jesus Christ for your faithfulness to me. In Jesus’ name! Jesus truly promises to nourish our souls, especially during the darkest of days, when we feel the loneliest and in the grip of despair, but He never leaves our side. Thank You Heavenly Father through Your Son Jesus Christ Amen!

Evelina
Member
Evelina
1 month ago
Reply to  Caroline Beck

That’s beautiful Caroline!
Thanks be to God.
Thank you for sharing!

Evelina
Member
Evelina
1 month ago

Thank you all for your replies.
I will try to use your ideas during my sleepless nights.
And my prayer tonight is:
May every child in the world fall asleep peacefully, not worrying about tomorrow.

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