Sunday, April 16, 2017

Luke for Lent - Part 7 of 7

Title: Friend of the Humble (Supper at Emmaus)
Artist: Léon-Augustin Lhermitte
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 156 x 223 cm
Date: 1892
Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Luke 24: 28-35 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.

For these disciples, their faces downcast, hope had been buried in the tomb provided by Joseph. But despite their heavy hearts, these disciples do one thing right in this story — something so apparently insignificant it would be easy to miss. They offer hospitality to Jesus: “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening.” As Jesus sits at the table, takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them, their eyes were opened. Jesus blesses their small act of generosity with the revelation of his presence. It is in the intimacy of fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, that they at last recognise him, and their perplexity over recent events is removed. It is through sitting with Jesus and listening to him that we get to know him.

Léon Augustin Lhermitte (1844 – 1925) was a French realist painter and etcher whose primary subject matter was rural scenes depicting peasants at work. He was a student of Lecoq de Boisbaudran, and gained recognition after his show in the Paris Salon in 1864. Lhermitte’s innovative use of pastels won him the admiration of his contemporaries, including Vincent van Gogh, and his many awards include the French Legion of Honour (1884) and the Grand Prize at the Exposition Universelle in 1889.

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