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Art for Meditation - September 2017

El Greco SEPT

El Greco, Dominikos Theotokopoulos (Candia, 1541 – Toledo, 1614), Healing of the blind man, around 1570, oil on poplar wood, cm 65.5 x 84, Dresden, Gemäldegalerie

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23).

The Evangelist Matthew tells us what the announcement of the Kingdom was about for Jesus: preaching, teaching and healing.

The painting by the great Spanish artist represents a significant moment in Jesus' public life. Whether it is the Jericho episode narrated in the gospel of Mark (10:46-52) or whether is - most probably - the healing recounted by John in Chapter 9 of his Gospel, which occurred in Jerusalem, we are faced with a great miracle, which raises interest and great echo among those who followed Jesus' actions.

Certainly, the miracle results in amazement and discussion, as evidenced by the gestures and expressions of the group on the right. There are young and old people, all wrapped in flamboyant, elegant garments. They are so many and they are nervous, yet the only one who seems interested in what they are doing is the dog in the foreground at the centre of the painting.

We too are not too interested in the group on the right, because our gaze is captured by the gesture of Jesus, on the left, towards the blind man who stopped him along the way. On his knees in front of him, the young man has left his poor belongings aside and is asking Jesus to heal him. He still cannot see him, but his hand holds firm the left hand of Jesus. And Jesus, with his right-hand fingers, is touching the lifeless eyes of the blind man.

We know the outcome. In John's very beautiful and touching account is the testimony of the blind man to the Jews: “Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing” (John, 9:32-33).

But finally, coming back to meet (and this time also to see) Jesus, here is his profession of faith: “Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’. ‘Who is he, sir?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.’ Then the man said, ‘Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him” (John 9:35-38).

Looking at the beautiful painting by El Greco, we too, like the blind man, want to repeat our profession of faith in Jesus: “Lord, I believe”!


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