Pastor's Desk: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted 15th August 2015 in Pastor's Desk

In place of the Pastor’s Desk this week, we include the following extract from Intercom Magazine:

The Deep End - Images of the Word

John’s extended discourse on the bread of life is by now taking on the characteristics of a press conference. Jesus puts his point across and then faces intense questioning. Part of the scandal caused by his words might be explained, at least historically, by the Jewish prohibition against the consumption of blood for, as Deuteronomy puts it, ‘the blood is the life.’ It is no surprise, then, that the first hearers of this teaching may have recoiled in horror, disgust and confusion.

Jesus’ invitation to share in his body and blood has captivated the Christian imagination for millennia. Giovanni Bellini’s The Blood of the Redeemer (1460-65) depicts a timeless Jesus, perhaps between life and death, who offers his blood continuously in a gaping wound next to his heart while his body bears itself to the gaze of the viewer. Bellini combines the pathos of Christ’s injuries with the elegance of his classically constructed body to stir our compassion and evoke meditation.

Bellini’s imagery would have scandalised first century Jewish audiences for many reasons, too many to name here. This suggests that our understanding of Jesus’ body and blood, his saving body, has evolved over time. But in Bellini’s art, John’s poetry, and the life of the Christian community, words and images collide to bear witness to the Word made flesh in the boundless space of the Christian imagination.

Paul Clogher

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