Today I feel especially blessed to be able to share some beautiful paintings from Jan Hearn, who is a parishioner of St. Giles in Reading. They depict three scenes from the New Testament: the calling of St. Matthew, the woman at the well and the healing of the blind man.
"Not me, surely?" Matthew appears to be asking in disbelief, as the Lord stretches out His hand to him. Tax collectors were the most despised members of first century Jewish society, and with good reason - they worked alongside the Romans to become rich at the expense of their fellow citizens, mercilessly extorting money from their poor and vulnerable neighbours. They were considered the worst of sinners and, potentially, beyond redemption - until Jesus appears and shows that there is truly no-one on Earth who falls outside the scope of God's merciful love.
It's the middle of the day when this Samaritan woman comes to draw water from Jacob's well. Ordinarily, women visit the well at daybreak so they don't have to make the journey in the intense heat. That this woman would rather face the heat than the other women of the town tells us something about her reputation. Yet she encounters a Christ who meets her where she is and reveals His divinity to her. It's a revelation which sets her free from the prison of shame and loneliness and enables her to run back to her people, crying in wonder: "Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did!"
"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?" The disciples' question is a perfectly reasonable one. In Jesus' day it was commonly believed that physical impairments were the result of God punishing a person for some sin, either their own or that of an ancestor. Yet, their knowledge of God was still imperfect. Jesus' answer and subsequent healing of the man can go a long way toward helping us understand the nature of our loving Father.
We hope you have enjoyed these paintings. Please feel free to share any thoughts or impressions you have in the comments!
written by Lucy Stothard, art © Jan Hearn