Jesus healing the Blind Man,
Painted by Brian Jekel (born 1951),
Oil on canvas,
Painted in 2008
© Brian Jekel Artist
The blind man came away with his sight restored
As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. He spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man, and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored.
His neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging said, ‘Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said, ‘Yes, it is the same one.’ Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’ The man himself said, ‘I am the man.’
They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man’s eyes, so when the Pharisees asked him how he had come to see, he said, ‘He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.’ Then some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man cannot be from God: he does not keep the sabbath.’ Others said, ‘How could a sinner produce signs like this?’ And there was disagreement among them. So they spoke to the blind man again, ‘What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?’ ‘He is a prophet’ replied the man.
‘Are you trying to teach us,’ they replied ‘and you a sinner through and through, since you were born!’ And they drove him away.
Jesus heard they had driven him away, and when he found him he said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied ‘tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.’ The man said, ‘Lord, I believe’, and worshipped him.
Reflection on the painting
Brian Jekel, born in Wisconsin, painted well over 1200 paintings of biblical scenes. When interviewed, he said, "It's been an education in itself to really get into these events of the Bible and to study them as I try to create an illustration that attempts to bring it to life. There are so many great stories, awesome in scope and importance, but the life of Christ has been the most humbling and sometimes burdensome experience. There are times when you can feel the weight of it all." Today's portrait of the blind man being healed by the outstretched arm of Jesus that comes into the canvas is very effective. The blind's man hand reaches out for Jesus, but he can't see him - yet! The entire surface of the painting is rather hazy, apart from the man's face and, especially, his eyes, which are painted with sharpness. The blind man is at the very point now of being healed and having his sight restored.
It is a beautiful reading for today, Laetare Sunday, a day on which we rejoice in God's love for us. We rejoice that he healed the blind man and that he may heal us too of our blindness.
Today, those of you who will attend mass may notice that the priest wears rose coloured (pink) vestments. Pink is the colour of joy. In French the colour actually sounds better, as it is called 'rose', like the flower's name and therefore conveys the sense of beauty, creation, nature, fragrance, growing,... This rose colour is only used twice in the whole liturgical year: Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent. The purpose is to bring a sense of joy amidst a season of penance. It is to remind us that during our desert time of Lent, the light of Christ is coming soon. It reminds us that the season of preparation is coming to a close soon and the great feast of the Resurrection is swiftly approaching.
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