The Reading for Chapel Services on Wednesday, April 24, 2019
John 20: 19-29
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked …, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. “When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
THE WORD OF THE LORD
and the People respond, “Thanks be to God.”
You may remember from last year at this time that one of my Lenten disciplines is to spend Holy Week studying Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” This year I decided to branch out and spend some time with other artists’ images of that last meal of Jesus’. I started with a 1440 work by Fra Angelico and looked at dozens of images all the way forward to works completed in the 21st century. I even found a picture I took of a 20th Century sculpture in Death Valley, California, that I saw in person some years ago! As this week’s lesson is about Thomas, I did begin by seeing if I could pick out Thomas. He is often touching Jesus. But I ended up focusing on works in which the disciples wore halos, and that led me to give all my attention to Judas and whether he was painted as having a halo or not.
Fra Angelico painted Judas Iscariot not at the table, but kneeling nearby with some of the other disciples. Judas’ halo looks darkened, or tainted. The stained glass window over the altar at Christ Church in Greenville has everyone with a halo but Judas. I did also go look at a familiar work: Trinity Cathedral’s stained glass window of the Last Supper. It was made and installed in the Cathedral nave in the 1920s by a firm called Whitefriars of England. Judas is in the foreground, holding the money he had already taken from the chief priests. He is on his knees, eaten up with guilt, but he still wears the halo. What might it say about the theology of these artists when we notice whether they chose to paint Judas with or without the halo?
Have a blessed Easter Day and joyous Easter season. Remember: the Easter season is called the Great Fifty Days and will go on until Sunday, June 9.