Dear Sisters and Brothers,
One of my favourite paintings is by Caravaggio, ‘The Taking of Christ.’ The artist tells the truth of Jesus not so much through faces but even more through hands! The highest point in the painting is an aggressive hand and, significantly, a hand raised in blind fear comes just below it. In the middle is a hand of Judas, digging fiercely into the arm of Jesus and the overlaid hand, non-human in its steel protection, of the arresting soldier. This man dominates, almost faceless, destroying what it catches. At the bottom of the picture, strongly lit, are the linked hands of Jesus, resolute in non-resistance, tense but peaceful hands braced to receive whatever God the Father allows to happen. It is this painful but total obedience that is most integral to the meaning of who Jesus is.
Caravaggio shows him not as consoled or indifferent. Rather he is a human person, as we are, knowing weakness and sorrow but he has absolute trust in God the Father whatever he may feel or endure.
The turmoil of life is not something to be escaped but to be used! Caught in the net of malice, symbolised by the cloak that wraps Jesus and Judas together, Jesus waits in patience for his deliverance, not from disaster but through it!
In Jesus, we too can be free, at that very moment when we feel entrapped. We can be empowered to make all our distress a holy purification. Only a willing surrender to Love can truly save us. Those who hurt us are, without realising it, instruments of that Love. Judas takes Jesus to that Death which becomes redemption for Judas and for me.
Please take some time to view and reflect on this masterpiece by Caravaggio.
Your brother, your friend, your priest