Jesus Healing the Sick,
Painted by Gebhard Fugel (1863-1939),
Painted circa 1920,
Oil on canvas
© Dommuseum Freising, Bavaria, Germany

Jesus Healing the Sick,
Painted by Gebhard Fugel (1863-1939),
Painted circa 1920,
Oil on canvas
© Dommuseum Freising, Bavaria, Germany

Gospel of 6 September 2023

He laid His hands on each and cured them

Luke 4:38-44

Leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. Leaning over her he rebuked the fever and it left her. And she immediately got up and began to wait on them.

At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them. Devils too came out of many people, howling, ‘You are the Son of God.’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Christ.

When daylight came he left the house and made his way to a lonely place. The crowds went to look for him, and when they had caught up with him they wanted to prevent him leaving them, but he answered, ‘I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, because that is what I was sent to do.’ And he continued his preaching in the synagogues of Judaea.

Reflection on the painting

In our Gospel reading today we read about how Jesus is healing people. Healing was essential to Jesus' ministry. The healing power flowed from within him to cure the crippled, blind, deaf, and leprous, and even to raise people from the dead. But Jesus knew that the healings he performed during his lifetime would go beyond his time spent here on earth and would serve also as a physical symbol of forgiveness. Just as he healed the sick in his time, he continues to heal our souls in the spirit of forgiveness. The physical healings in the Gospels symbolise something more crucial, more essential, more lasting, more breathtaking, more momentous than just temporary relief from earthly sufferings…

Our painting is by Gebhard Fugel, a German painter specialising in Christian themes. Jesus is not depicted as a majestic figure, but rather as someone rolling up his sleeves and attending to the needs of the sick. He is helping a sick man to sit upright. There is great tenderness emanating from this picture. Behind Jesus, we see a woman praying after she has been healed; another woman is touching Jesus' cloak. In the foreground on the right, we see sick and blind men waiting expectantly to meet Jesus. The sunlight that touches Jesus' head gives him a natural halo.

Our painter founded in 1893 the German Society for Christian Art (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Christliche Kunst), as an "oriented forum for a lively dialogue between artists, theologians, philosophers and art lovers". They looked at the healing power of art in society: by bringing Christ to people using art, it could serve as a lifeline for those affected by personal traumas, suffering and pain.

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Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
5 months ago

It was just an odd coincidence, but I made a horrible joke about mothers-in-law yesterday….now I feel guilty…I was only kidding…I do not seriously think that is what purgatory is for…I just was trying to be funny and it was not funny at all….okay then…I just wanted to say that about the odd timing of the mother-in-law joke.

In this art selection for today, I love how Jesus heals the people one at a time…giving the people individual attention. What an amazing Lord we have! This painting makes me think of “The Chosen”….I really enjoy “The Chosen”…in my opinion, the Chosen is a work of art…a truly great scene is Jesus healing at the pool and Jesus asks: “Do you want to be healed?” …..I think it is copacetic to post the youtube in here…I will attach it to this comment if anyone is interested in watching it.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
5 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal
Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
5 months ago

Ahhhh another wonderful example of classical composition: light, line, color, form, gesture, narrative.

I think Frgel wants us to make the shadowy swoop up the large wall on the right to Jesus ‘haloed’ in light. The contrasted dark onlooker immediately behind stares down in awe perplex compassion at the man being healed, in turn, his stark stretched torso and arms pushes our eye cross to the ‘man carrying his mat – on the Sabbath?’ (Jesus having just come from the synagogue ). This is the second, more controversial, focus of the panel re: the line of: the wall, the architecture, the sidewalk and the ‘center-stage’ daylight highlighting this figure – leaving no doubt. This animated/moving statue of: light and dark/heavy, of light/soft and corse, ‘delightedly’ shift our gaze decisively onto the ‘woman touching the hem of Jesus’s garment’, just behind, which … brings us back to Jesus. And then tracking down the lineup of cripples we are deflected back to Jesus by the upturned supplicating arms of the forth person. It is then back over to our ‘mat-fellow’, his load’s curvature bringing us to the subtle, very background, ‘woman in hazy blue prayerful thanksgiving’. Her face just visible beside the pure bold white ‘flip’ of Jesus’s robe’, sends us starkly to the blood red garment of the ‘scribe and Pharisees’ with clenched fists and raised accusatory arm – brandishing an invisible club? And finally back over the bulging mat’s form … to the ‘Controversial healer, the Christ’ : “You are the Son of God!!!”.

A very big hooray for Fugel’s “Deutsche Gesellschaft für Christliche Kunst”. Like the parable, the two and three dimensional works of Christian Art are meant to make us proficient in ‘right-brain’ gymnastics. Not simply ‘nice domestic/agriculture’ stories to look at, real Christian Art, like the Gospel, should leave our feathers a li’l ruffled and dare us to go ever deeper between the lines of its mystical text … causing us to get ourselves up and ‘take up our cross’ and LIVE the Gospel with our lives.

Zeffi
Member
Zeffi
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Howard

I very much like your analysis of the picture and the way our focus is led from one point to another, always coming back to the central point of Jesus.

I have just one quibble: you highlight the “‘man carrying his mat – on the Sabbath?’ (Jesus having just come from the synagogue)“

The light in the picture is not in accord with the Gospel passage. By the light, one would say it’s mid-afternoon (and although the figure of Jesus glows brightly He is not lighting the picture).

But the Gospel says clearly that He did not begin to heal the people until after sunset. The only exception was Simon’s mother-in-law, from whom He drove the fever by rebuke (like the demon in the possessed person in the synagogue), not by touch.

Therefore, I think we can clear the man with the mat of Sabbath-breaking.

Pauline Wood
Member
Pauline Wood
5 months ago

I do love the quality of light in this painting, although it’s very bright for sunset? Maybe it’s the light of Christ Himself. I felt instant nostalgia when I first looked at Jesus in this painting. He looks like the Jesus illustrations in my childhood Ladybird book (or similar), he is like the Jesus of my childhood. Golden. Radiant. I still think of Him as being radiant now but His humanity as much more swarthy and looking like a man from Nazareth.

My husband and I were able to visit Capernaum on our trip to the Holy Land at this time last year. It really is, as they say, like walking the fifth gospel. I was very surprised to see that the houses and synagogues in Capernaum are all very dark. The local stone is a kind of basalt and it is a very dark grey. Peter’s house sits almost on the shore of the the Sea of Galilee – in walking distance from the synagogue. The streets are very narrow, Iv’e tried to attach a photo of I took of the shore go Galilee that shows the colour of the local stone.

When I read this gospel account today I am struck by just how many people were healed. Jesus attended to everyone for 12 hours at least. That’s a lot of people with a lot of need. Right through the night. I think of doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff who work through the night. The body doesn’t stop demanding attention just because it is night time! Those people will be working tonight and all nights. I’m so very grateful to them and their dedication and thank God for them. Jesus chose to go and rest with His Father afterwards. May we find our rest in Him.

Ultimately the immense need and wounds of humanity could only be attended to by the Cross and Resurrection. It is to that event we lift up our eyes and are saved. The compassion of God illustrated here in a ‘small’ way in comparison to what was to come at Calvary. Thank You Jesus.

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Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
5 months ago
Reply to  Pauline Wood

Lovely words Pauline. You are one of the writers with great religious feeling on CA. Like you I spent quite a few years away from the church in my youth but have come back strongly. I thank God for drawing me back.

Pauline Wood
Member
Pauline Wood
5 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I thank God for our (you and me) return too and I pray that this great gift will be taken up by everyone!

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