Salvation,
Painted by Ron DiCianni,
Painted in 2005
Oil on canvas,
© Courtesy of Ron DiCianni

Salvation,
Painted by Ron DiCianni,
Painted in 2005
Oil on canvas,
© Courtesy of Ron DiCianni

Gospel of 12 February 2024

And with a sigh that came straight from the heart

Mark 8:11-13

The Pharisees came up and started a discussion with Jesus; they demanded of him a sign from heaven, to test him. And with a sigh that came straight from the heart he said, ‘Why does this generation demand a sign? I tell you solemnly, no sign shall be given to this generation.’ And leaving them again and re-embarking, he went away to the opposite shore.

Reflection on the painting

Throughout the Gospel of Mark, we regularly get significant little personal details about Jesus the are not mentioned in the other gospels. Mark writes that ‘with a sigh that came straight from the heart’ Jesus continued to address the Pharisees. Jesus at this stage had already been doing plenty of miracles and still they didn’t believe him. They wanted even more signs… When would they have enough signs to believe? What sort of signs did they then need?… It is not surprising that Jesus sighed in desperation at their unbelief.

We read today about a frustrated Jesus. Sometimes his frustration was even with his own disciples, who often didn’t grasp what he was teaching them. We like to think that if we had lived in Jesus' time, we would have been moved by his miracles and would never have doubted him. So we can be a little judgemental towards the Pharisees and the disciples at times: why didn’t they understand fully what Jesus was teaching them? Well, they probably simply needed time to let things sink in, to come to terms what they had witnessed. They needed time and space to process everything. And exactly therein lies the beauty of our faith: it is a spiritual pilgrimage which slowly brings us towards a better understanding of Christ… and towards salvation.

Salvation is ultimately what our Christian faith is about. Our faith teaches that through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, he made a way for humanity to be reconciled to God. This reconciliation is we understand as salvation – it's not just rescue from sin and its consequences but also the restoration of a right relationship with God. Our artwork titled 'Salvation' is painted by Chicago based Ron DiCianni. He said about himself, “I am a Christian, cleverly disguised as an Artist”. His self-stated mission is to “Reclaim the Arts for Christ” and he has created some beautiful contemporary Christian artworks. In our canvas we see a young man at the foot of the cross, holding a hammer and nail. He is remorseful and penitent. He is suddenly realising that his own sin is what put Christ on the cross and that he was the one who hammered in one of the nails. This moment of the young man's realisation is what will also ultimately bring him salvation. Realisation leading to salvation!

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Sandra Koerber
Member
Sandra Koerber
12 days ago

Hebrews 9:22
“…without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins…?

Matthew 5:17
“Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill…”

Isaiah 53:5
“The innocent Son of God took our punishment for sin…”

Jesus was the perfect, spotless Lamb of God who was sacrificed for our sins that we might be forgiven so our relationship could be restored with the Father and we could be called His children.

Jesus’s birth and death was prophesied, as is his, yet to be fulfilled, second coming.

Children have a right to know what Jesus did for them…

Elvira
Member
Elvira
12 days ago

I don’t like today’s painting. And looking at it makes me feel bad. When in catechesis young people ask what does it mean that Jesus died for our sins? I will not be the one to teach them this picture. Sometimes you may encounter boys and girls with feelings of guilt, anguish and insecurities that the worst thing you can convey is that they have contributed to hanging Jesus on the cross. In my catechetical groups I remember those feelings in a boy whose father had committed suicide, a girl whose parents had separated, an adopted boy who came from a very disintegrated environment … I do not believe that this painting will help them to understand what salvation Jesus offers us…
I don’t know what you think, but I explain it this way: We have to overcome the idea that “he died for our sins”. Jesus died to be faithful to himself and to God. He never stopped saying what he had to say, or doing what he had to do, even though he knew it would cost him his life. That is the key to understanding that his death was not an accident, but a fundamental fact in his life. The fact that he was killed may not be more important, but the fact that he cared more about defending his convictions than life, gives us the true depth of his choice. Jesus was a martyr (witness) in the strict sense of the word.

Zeffi
Member
Zeffi
12 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

This is a very interesting proposition, that “ We have to overcome the idea that “he died for our sins”.”. Both that idea, and the idea that our sins nailed Jesus to the cross, were fundamental parts of the instruction for First Confession which we were taught at primary school. Yes, very harsh, even traumatising. Is that good or bad? It certainly gave a very personal connection to the Crucifixtion.

If the teaching of the Church has now changed, would that be good, or a diminishing of the message? Can you say if the official Church teaching has indeed changed in this way?

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
12 days ago
Reply to  Zeffi

Well Zeffi you had hoped for an answer to your question from Elvira who is a very well versed and profound religious sage. I would just say that church teaching has got a lot more user friendly over the decades. I remember all the stuff about mortal sin etc and the talk of eternal damnation. You never hear about any of that now. It’s just about the love of God which is nice.

Clare Kent
Member
Clare Kent
12 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Elvira, surely the central truth of Christianity is that Jesus came toshow us the love of the Father, that we might be reconciled to Him through his death and then of course his resurrection.Does nor saying he died for defending his convictions make his death into a political gesture and undermine the whole truth of our faith?

Elvira
Member
Elvira
12 days ago

I believe that Jesus did not die for political but religious reasons. The religious leaders of his day declared him blasphemous for saying that he was the Son of God, which was why they handed him over to the Romans for them to crucify. In the Gospel of Mark (the first one that was written), we are reading how still the followers of Jesus did not understand that the Messiah was not a triumphant political leader, death on the cross was an official humiliation to accept; as someone has commented here, This was a reflection that would last for a while.
Today Pope Francis met with the elected president of Argentina. During his electoral campaign he called the Communist Pope…. There is a very eloquent phrase from Bishop Helder Cámara “If I give food to the poor they call me a saint, but if I ask why they do not have food, they call me a communist”. The tragedy that Jesus of Nazareth had to live is repeated and many say that politics has intervened in those events, I am referring to the murders of Monsignor Romero, Ignacio Ellacuría, Rutilio Grande … and so many others who gave their life and continue to give it to follow the teachings of Jesus

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
12 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Such good sense and irony from Bishop Helder Cámara.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
12 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Well it was the Romans the crucified Jesus not the Jews, and the question that Pilate asked was not “do you think you are God ” but “do you think you are the king of the Jews” .. are you a king? This is written in all four Gospels I think.
So Pilate doesn’t seem concerned about the religious aspects but more about the idea of a leader of a rebellious Jewish nation perhaps.
Some of the Gospels were written during a Jewish uprising 50 or 60 AD , some say that the writers were placating the Romans with Pilate allegedly washing his hands of the deed and the Jews saying on our heads and our children be it or words to that effect, to disastrous consequences for the Jewish nation.

Last edited 12 days ago by Thimas@
Elvira
Member
Elvira
12 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

The Jewish religious leaders condemned Jesus for blasphemy because He said He was the Son of God. Under the law of Moses, the punishment for blasphemy was death, but the Jews lived under the rule of the Roman government and could not execute anyone without the permission of the Romans. Then the Jews changed their accusation when they brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate, accusing him of having affirmed that He was the king of the Jews, which was punishable by death since it was considered a betrayal of the Roman government. Pilate’s question is rhetorical, and He answers “You are saying it,” so it is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, yet in John he answers more “I am king as you say. And my mission is to bear witness to the truth. That is precisely why I was born and why I came into the world. Everyone who belongs to the truth hears my voice”. I believe that means that He does not recognize Himself as King against Rome, his kingdom is the “Kingdom of God”. In fact Pilate did not see it very clearly when he did not want to know more and washed his hands

Elvira
Member
Elvira
12 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

The Jewish religious leaders condemned Jesus for blasphemy because He said He was the Son of God. Under the law of Moses, the punishment for blasphemy was death, but the Jews lived under the rule of the Roman government and could not execute anyone without the permission of the Romans. Then the Jews changed their accusation when they brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate, accusing him of having affirmed that He was the king of the Jews, which was punishable by death since it was considered a betrayal of the Roman government. Pilate’s question is rhetorical, and He answers “You are saying it,” so it is in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, yet in John he answers more “I am king as you say. And my mission is to bear witness to the truth. That is precisely why I was born and why I came into the world. Everyone who belongs to the truth hears my voice”. I believe that means that He does not recognize Himself as King against Rome, his kingdom is the “Kingdom of God”. In fact Pilate did not see it very clearly when he did not want to know more and washed his hands

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
12 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Well there is no evidence that the Jews changed their accusation, the whole story changes gradually until you get to John. Pilate becomes more and more innocent going through the Gospels. Basically the whole thing is clouded in the mists of history! One can’t help thinking that the whole idea was to exonerate the Romans and make the Jews responsible though.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
12 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Well, let’s say they killed him because the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman occupier allied themselves to assassinate a “subversive” Jew who posed a threat to the religious and political power of his time, because he put himself at the service of the poor and the humiliated and against the privileges

Zeffi
Member
Zeffi
12 days ago

What a strong and stark painting! Just two men, alone in all the world under the Light of Heaven/the Light of the World. The One seen and recognised only by His poor wounded feet. The other, an Everyman in his 21st century clothes and wristwatch, exhausted by his struggle, his undershirt soaked with the sweat of his effort and sticking to his torso. He, like Isaac, like Job, like so many others through the ages, has wrestled with God, has fought against his own Conversion/Repentance until it has brought him to his knees and his Salvation has come upon him with the Blood of his Saviour which has fallen on his clothes.

Here rôles are reversed: the strong young man, who could jump up and run away, is on his knees before the Victim immobilised on the Cross. The world is reduced to only those two, and that is all that is needed, not throngs of people or cheering crowds, no intermediary, no more than the Saviour and the saved.

And that wristwatch: it is for time, it is for all time, for now, for then, for the future. It shows the time for salvation.

Last edited 12 days ago by Zeffi
Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
12 days ago
Reply to  Zeffi

Zeffi, I like your comment on it much better than the painting itself😁

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
12 days ago

Me too – lol!
By the way does anyone find ‘Lol!’ annoying?

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
12 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Mmm, a bit, overuse of…..? Tee-hee!!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
12 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

yo no entiendo ¡Lol!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
12 days ago
Reply to  Zeffi

A beautiful analysis Zeffi. Thank you for it.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
12 days ago
Reply to  Zeffi

Zeffi, that’s a terrific commentary, you’ve made the painting live.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
12 days ago

I agree with Elvira. It seems that Jesus’ miracles were also motivated by his compassion for suffering, which must be missing in the “demanding” Pharisees.

Last edited 12 days ago by Mark Crain
Elvira
Member
Elvira
12 days ago

The gospel shows Jesus today that he is preparing to continue his mission in Jewish territory, and immediately the unbelievers and blind Pharisees, who without believing in Him, ask Him to make a sign from heaven to prove that He is the Messiah. But this is a deceptive request, and Jesus realizes it and therefore refuses any sign, because he knows that this is a path that would lead him to a spectacular and triumphalist messianism, and the Messiah that Mark wants us to discover, us and the Christians of that time, is suffering and humiliated. Faith does not depend on spectacular or magical signs. That is why Jesus clarifies that faith should not be dependent on miracles, but that it is miracles that depend on faith, in fact, signs without faith say nothing at all. That’s why the Pharisees “saw” nothing at all

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
12 days ago

Has anyone ever wondered what would have happened if the Pharisees and other authorities had accepted that Jesus was in Messiah? I accept that scripture was apparently being fulfilled, but presumably the ideal mission was not one that led to the cross?

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
12 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Well, I think from the off that it was obvious that Christ would suffer and die – Simeon said (to Mary) ‘a sword will pierce your own soul’ and that was when He was tiny. ‘The stone that would be rejected ‘ and all that….
I guess even if the powers that be had accepted Jesus as Messiah, there would surely have been opposition from other quarters. It’s not just Jews that do not accept Him.
It does seem that no matter what Jesus did, it was never enough to convince some – ‘even if someone were to come back from the dead’, as He said himself.
My thought is that real belief came afterwards when His resurrection and teaching actually sunk in….

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
12 days ago

Yes I think in the end Jesus was executed for political than rather than religious reasons. The king of the Jews etc. But in the end everyone fulfilled their role.
There is a inevitability if you provoke the authorities in an ancient society . I expect that if someone in Saudi Arabia were to tell everybody that they’d got it wrong and you were the son of God a similar fate might await you. They would certainly lock you up.
But Jesus living to an old age was not in the script, so the bad actors were a requirement.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
12 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Haha..yes, in any hard-liner society, go against it and you will get your comeuppance for sure…

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
12 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Your “counterfactual question” is thought provoking. Thank you, Thimas.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
12 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

No, I never wondered that.

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
12 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Wow Thimas GREAT!
You question reminds me of Ivan’s ‘poem’ (really not so poetic – a comment in itself) in Dostoyevsky, “Brothers Karamazov”, re: the “Grand Inquisitor”
“…It is Thou! … Thou!’ … Receiving no reply, he rapidly continues: ‘Nay, answer not; be silent! … And what couldst Thou say? … I know but too well Thy answer…. Besides, Thou hast no right to add one syllable to that which was already uttered by Thee before…. Why shouldst Thou now return, to impede us in our work? For Thou hast come but for that only, and Thou knowest it well. But art Thou as well aware of what awaits Thee in the morning? I do not know, nor do I care to know who thou mayest be: be it Thou or only thine image, to-morrow I will condemn and burn Thee on the stake, as the most wicked of all the heretics; and that same people, who to-day were kissing Thy feet, to-morrow at one bend of my finger, will rush to add fuel to Thy funeral pile… Wert Thou aware of this?’ he adds, speaking as if in solemn thought, and never for one instant taking his piercing glance off the meek Face before him.”….

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
12 days ago

What competition?
I find this painting ‘cheesy’. Sorry. Perhaps I shouldn’t say that but for people at the foot of the cross I can think of rather more inspiring pictures.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
12 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Agree, what competition? I can’t see anything about one via my email. Is it on the app? Also not keen on the painting. Perhaps that’s all for today, it’ll be a day of action in the garden. God bless, all. 🌿

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
12 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Morning Noelle – on the top of the page with ‘Today’s Reading’ etc. there is a link to ‘Competition’
I wonder where else (apart from CA) entry is offered?

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
12 days ago

Thank you, Patricia, couldn’t see for looking! 🌺

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
12 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

I SEE! Yes, very exciting and can include photography. There are sure to be some very exciting entries….

Nik
Member
Nik
12 days ago

Dank.
Met uw uitleg ook kunnen vinden.
Benieuwd.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
12 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Hmm…not my cup of tea either. Morning.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
12 days ago

It is exciting news about the competition! I won’t be submitting anything, but what a great idea for all the artists out there!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
12 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

We have a few artists on here – I wonder if they will be inspired to create something?

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
12 days ago

I hope they will be inspired to submit something!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
12 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Now I see. You see but you do not observe Watson.
S. Holmes

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