DAILY TEA: Today’s Gospel in Art: Jesus son of David have pity on me

TGz Africa
TGz Africa
4 Min Read
The Blind Man's Meal
The Blind Man's Meal

BY: Patrick van der Vorst

The Blind Man's Meal
The Blind Man’s Meal by Pablo Picasso
Today’s Gospel in Art: Jesus son of David have pity on me

As Jesus drew near to Jericho there was a blind man sitting at the side of the road begging. When he heard the crowd going past he asked what it was all about, and they told him that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by. So he called out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’

The people in front scolded him and told him to keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder, ‘Son of David, have pity on me.’

Jesus stopped and ordered them to bring the man to him, and when he came up, asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Sir,’ he replied ‘let me see again.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you.’

And instantly his sight returned and he followed him praising God, and all the people who saw it gave praise to God for what had happened.

Reflection on the Painting

In today’s Gospel passage the blind man calls Jesus ‘Son of David’. People in the previous sentence call Jesus ‘The Nazarene’. So why did the blind man call Jesus the Son of David? The Son of David was a messianic title. David was promised by God that one of his offspring would rule forever. The blind man had heard all the stories about Jesus who was well known throughout the region for all His miracles and teachings. As the people of Israel were waiting for the Messiah to deliver them from oppression, the blind man may simply have put two and two together and concluded in his own mind that Jesus was the Messiah…. Jesus never denied that he was the Son of David.

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One of the more moving paintings of a blind man in the 20th century is this canvas by Pablo Picasso painted during his Blue Period, in 1903. It is a deeply Christian painting in which we see a blind man in a graceful, meditative pose, tasting bread and wine. Like the man in our picture, we as viewers participate as we gaze on what seems almost like a sacramental moment. The colours are restricted, the setting is bare, yet the composition is complex.

Looking at the solitary figure, we feel a sense of melancholy. We can’t really tell that he is a blind man, apart from the hand carefully trying to feel where the jug of wine is placed on the table. This is a very subtle way of painting a blind person: using the pose of the touch of the hand, rather than the eyes, to convey the blindness. It was with touch that Jesus healed so many, too.

The painting is not merely a portrait of a blind man: Picasso went through a period of depression and poverty at the time, thus identifying with the weak in society in a very tangible manner that is reflected in this canvas. As the blind man was healed in our Gospel reading, so did Picasso gain sight and recognition from the art world shortly after this period.


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