Today's Gospel in Art - It is to your advantage that I go away

  • Patrick van der Vorst

Farewell, by Edmund Blair Leighton 1922 © Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Wirral, UK

Farewell, by Edmund Blair Leighton 1922 © Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Wirral, UK

Gospel of 19th May 2020 - John 16:5-11

Jesus said, 'Now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, "Where are you going?" But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgement, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.'

Reflection on the Painting

We see a very human side to Jesus in today's reading: He is finding it hard to say goodbye to His friends, the disciples. Just like any of us, when we say goodbye to our friends, we tell them 'see you soon', 'let's not leave it so long', 'au revoir', etc… all promises hoping to see each other soon again. Today's Gospel reading feels like a long 'au revoir' with the promise of things to come and that they will see Jesus again. What permeates the reading is that Christ has the well-being of His disciples at heart. He tells us: 'it is for your own good that I am going'. His advice, His promises, His words, His departing this world, are all for their own good… and for our good.

Jesus offers His disciples consolation with the promise that they will not be left on their own. He left them in bodily form, but He remained with them in Spirit… all the time, everywhere they went… And the same for us, we have Jesus Himself living inside us. That is the gift He gave us in today's reading…

Our painting, painted a few months before the artist died, shows a small boy waving goodbye to probably his father leaving the shores in a ship. We don't see his facial expression, but he is probably sad. Same for the mother. But she is very gracious at the departure of her husband. He said 'au revoir' and will be back one day soon. She already looks forward to that day. One day we will meet Jesus... we look forward to that day too…


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Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, Edmund Blair Leighton

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