Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus

24 March 2016 | General Interest

Veronica wipes the Face of Jesus

THE WOMAN … who was she? Each of the synoptic Gospels recounts the story of the woman, afflicted for many years by a “flow of blood,” who was cured by touching Jesus’ cloak (see Mt 9:18–26; Mk 5:25–34 and Lk 8:43–48). In a fourth-century text, the “Acts of Pilate,” this woman has been associated with an image of Christ, and has come to be known as Veronica. In this painting I have connected the two stories. I have painted the hem of Jesus’ cloak and prayer shawl that she touched. There is a hint of rushing and movement on these clothing, symbolising the fact that Jesus had time to stop and stoop down to this lady. No doubt Veronica may have been among the courageous women who accompanied Jesus on his way to execution. She courageously stepped forward to touch the hem of his garment to be cured and again she reached out her hand in an act of courage, compassion and faith as He carried the cross. She recognized the presence of the Christ she loved and in whom she had believed. Her simple gesture of love was authentic, selfless and unconditional.

THE HAND ….. The painting of the hand is inspired by The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo,on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, a reminder of the moment when life is instilled in Adam by God. The hand is limp, the fingers are drooping as if they are without energy, awaiting for that vital spark of life, a new creation. The hand is on ground level, the level of the lowly, and the level of the wise. The viewer is invited to extend their hand and experience the power of the healing touch of God. 

Like Veronica we too feel helpless and can’t find a way to alleviate many of the sufferings of today. She had nothing to offer but her love and a simple cloth to clear out the spittle, blood and sweat from His face. Hers was a hands-on- ministry at the moment of opportunity.

THE IMAGE…… The image is faint and partly concealed symbolising the image of Jesus in today’s world. To become a true image of Christian discipleship we are called daily to unveil and unwrap the face of Jesus. To be touched by Mercy and to touch with Mercy.
Throughout the entire Scriptures, men and women have longed to see God, to gaze upon God’s countenance, beauty and glory.

“Shine your face on your servant” (Psalm 119:135). “Seek my face,” says the Lord (Psalm 27:8). “Do not hide your face from me” (Psalm 102:2). “Why do you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 88:14). “How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:2). “You cannot see my face; for no one shall see my face and live” (Exodus 33:20).

  • We see God’s face revealed to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • How often do we long to “see” the face of Jesus?
  • Where are we seeking his face today?
  • How well do we know the face of Jesus?
  • What do we do when we finally “see” the face of Jesus?
  • Who are the people who have no face today?
  • Who are the hidden and concealed?
  • Who are the voiceless … no identity?
  • Negative aspects of technology can be uncaring and faceless.

The presence of Jesus is hidden among the poor and the vulnerable: where their needs are recognized, Jesus is acknowledged. Jesus himself is touched by mercy when we perform the works of Mercy.
"When did we see you...?"

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.… (Colossians 3:2-4)

Pope Francis says, "Each one of us is invited to recognize in the fragile human being the face of Jesus who, in his human flesh, experienced the indifference and loneliness to which we often condemn the poorest."

God's way of preparing messengers to declare Christ is to first reveal Christ in them, that as they go forth they share more than just a message about Christ, they share the very essence of Him. Hence they are "a life-giving perfume". (See 2 Corinthians 2:15)

In John’s Gospel, “seeing” Jesus is believing in him. How simple yet how stunning a request: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus” (John 12:21)

Anne Reddington rsm 


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