“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus first addresses the paralytic’s deepest need and most serious ailment in order to reveal his true mission as the Son of God: the salvation of souls. Even a miraculous restoration of physical health will not last forever, but Christ’s forgiveness means we can “rise and walk” on the last day. The scribes accuse Jesus of blasphemy because they ... fail to see their need for conversion. Let us be “struck with awe and glorify God” that we, too, can receive the forgiveness of sins. Credit: as published at MAGNIFICAT, www.magnificat.net, July 2, 2020. Man is ordered to the good, the true, and the beautiful because, as the Catholic Church teaches, in such things we encounter God. Today, we encounter "Christ Healing the Paralytic" by Anthony Van Dyck. For a reflection about this painting, please enjoy below. Peace be with you! From the Author, My Daily Bread: A Reason2bCatholic blog
The fine arts, but above all sacred art, “of their nature are directed toward expressing in some way the infinite beauty of God in works made by human hands…” (CCC 2513).
Christ Healing the Paralytic
Word of God from the Gospel of Matthew 9:1-8
After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.
Reflection on the Painting
by Patrick van der Vorst
Our painting today by Anthony Van Dyck is part of the Royal Collection. Van Dyck painted this when he was only 20 years old, already displaying his supremely brilliant painting skills. What was innovative at the time this was painted, are the half-length figures depicted. Before, largely, either portraits were painted showing head and shoulders only or else full length-figures. This painting displaying half length figures was highly unusual and innovative.
The detailing of the paralytic man is beautiful. We can see his bodily imperfections such as the rounded back, gnarled muscle forms, raised veins and awkward physiognomy. Van Dyck’s contemporaries would immediately have understood that this man was ill or paralytic. He is shown just after being healed, holding his blankets, and he is now moving from the darkness on the left of the canvas towards the light on the right, and towards the Apostle on the right, probably St James… Both St James and the healed paralytic will now walk out of the canvas on their pilgrimage to follow Christ…
In our reading today, Jesus does three crucial things in one: He confronts his critics at the start of our reading; He performs a miracle; and He proclaims the forgiveness of sins… His right hand in our painting is reaching out to us too, so we can be healed too…
Used with the author's generous permission, from Today's Reading: Jesus healing the Paralytic by Patrick van der Vorst; https://christianart.today/reading.php?id=408; Christian Art Today https://www.christianart.today/index.php
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Truth Beauty, and Sacred Art (2501)
Created “in the image of God,” man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being’s inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man’s own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God’s activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man (CCC 2501).
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
– St. Paul, Letter to the Philippians (4:8)
St. Paul, Apostle, Martyr, pray for us.
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family pray for us. Amen.