The Man with the Withered Hand (L'homme à la main desséchée),
Painted by James Tissot (1836-1902),
Opaque watercolour over graphite on grey wove paper,
Painted circa 1890
© Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.95

The Man with the Withered Hand (L'homme à la main desséchée),
Painted by James Tissot (1836-1902),
Opaque watercolour over graphite on grey wove paper,
Painted circa 1890
© Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.95

Gospel of 18 January 2023

There was a man in the synagogue who had a withered hand

Mark 3:1-6

Jesus went into a synagogue, and there was a man there who had a withered hand. And they were watching him to see if he would cure him on the sabbath day, hoping for something to use against him. He said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Stand up out in the middle!’ Then he said to them, ‘Is it against the law on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil; to save life, or to kill?’ But they said nothing. Then, grieved to find them so obstinate, he looked angrily round at them, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out and his hand was better. The Pharisees went out and at once began to plot with the Herodians against him, discussing how to destroy him.

Reflection on the gouache on paper

Today’s reading tells how the Pharisees are out to trick Jesus and condemn him for healing on the Sabbath. As the Pharisees are still missing his point, we now hear that Jesus became angry and frustrated. Very human feelings. The Pharisees are more keen to observe a legal code rather than to be touched by the plight of a fellow human being.

As the central point of the story seems to be all about Jesus condemning the hardness of heart of the Pharisees, we may be tempted to think that the man with the withered hand was just a mere prop to tell the story: as a good background story to make the point of how Jesus disputed with the Pharisees  about what to do and what not to do on the Sabbath. Yes, Jesus indeed makes the point that we must never allow rituals and tradition to keep us from bringing healing and wholeness into the lives of others. However, in all of Scripture, people are not to be seen by us as mere props or means to tell a story! The man was cared for by Jesus and healed, and so on a basic human level, today's story was all about him and his healing. His faith in Christ is the real focus point of today's story. He is also placed at the very centre of our gouache on paper by James Tissot from 1890 where he is seen stretching out his arm and hand asking to be healed.

We can apply this story as well to every case of spiritual withering we have ourselves… and we know the Master Physician to whom we must go to for healing....

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Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra(@bogie29)
20 days ago

I love the different facial reactions of the people waiting to see what Jesus is going to do.

Anthony
Member
Anthony(@anthony)
20 days ago
Reply to  Andy Bocanegra

Me too.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
20 days ago

Jesus, as always, does the loving thing, not the rule-bound thing.
I recall a brilliant programme about a Mediterranean cruise with a lot of strict Jews holidaying. The ship was docking at some resort – on the Sabbath. They consulted with a number of rabbis on board to see if certain activities were, or were not permitted (with differing answers – dilemma!) so keen were they to keep within the law. As the Pharisees saw it, keeping within the law makes you righteous; Jesus overturned all that. No wonder they were outraged.
Love the muted tones in today’s painting.

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
20 days ago

Kaiser Wilhelm had a withered hand I seem to remember! I’m back from my cruise to the Canaries where were tossed about on the Bay of Biscay on our way home. We visited the tomb of James the Great in Compostela which was a great treat!
Now to deal with all the difficulties at home and put ourselves in God’s hands rather than the cruise ship captain!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
20 days ago

Hope you had a great holiday Chazbo. Odd that my post included a cruise anecdote 😁

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
20 days ago

A strange coincidence!!

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra(@bogie29)
20 days ago

Welcome back. I hope you had a nice trip.

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
19 days ago
Reply to  Andy Bocanegra

Thanks!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
20 days ago

Again, we take a story from a thousand years ago and see echoes in our own world. Today we are very much a society of Pharisees. Our leaders do not see the humanity in the poor and dispossessed, and hide behind their laws and legislation as a means of justifying their own privilege. I will reflect too on my own lack of action as a bystander and ask to be healed of my own withering in this respect.

Adriana
Member
Adriana(@art55)
19 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Very true indeed Grace, I, as far as I can recall, can’t not remember a President or Prime Minister in actual position that is in pro of the people instead of their political peers or their own benefit and their Swiss bank accounts

Anthony
Member
Anthony(@anthony)
20 days ago

Thank you Deacon Patrick, words of wisdom and insight. “Spiritual withering” I will remember that and be aware from now on.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
20 days ago
Reply to  Anthony

We are all spiritually withered aren’t we? Otherwise we’re pharisees.

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
20 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Our withered selves are not made completely whole and full until we leave this world and come into God’s presence I would say…..?

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
19 days ago

Maybe- but we can work towards it! Glad you’re back!

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