A devotion from Sheena.
Paolo and the Last Supper
Paolo Veronese was an Italian painter, born in the 15th century and renowned for his grand historic paintings of biblical scenes which graced the chapels and monastery walls and ceilings in Venice. He was a bit of a child prodigy and was painting to the same standard as his master in his teenage years.
His most controversial painting was of the ‘Last Supper.’ But he was summoned in front of the ‘Holy Inquisition’ and asked to explain his actions.
A copy and paste picture on a word document doesn’t really do it justice. This painting is 5.5m x 13m.
Jesus sits in the middle of the twelve disciples, with Peter and John on either side and Judas sitting shiftily nearby. What the Inquisitors didn’t like was everyone else in the painting. Paolo had added people of various ethnicities, drunken men, someone with a nose bleed, children, animals. People talking, joking and dancing.
Paolo had surrounded Jesus with the people he was trying to reach throughout his life.
Jesus wanted the little children to come to him, he really wanted everyone to come to Him.
He taught in the open for everyone to hear his message regardless of religious background, social status or gender. He healed those with diseases that made them socially outcast – epilepsy, leprosy, bleeding disorders. He ate with tax collectors and sinners and made them disciples.
Paolo was adding in everyone else into this painting but the Inquisitors couldn’t help but feel uneasy about having Jesus sitting in the middle of the mess of life. But that is where Jesus should be, in the middle of our messy, unsanitary, confusing lives. There is no point in trying to shove Him to the side, to leaving him in the margins – when we slap on a smile for church on Sunday or when we’re caked in tears and there is nobody else to turn to. Jesus wants to be in the middle of your life, and relying and talking to God can help to give peace in the mess.
And what became of Paolo? He and his painting were unscathed. He was however made to change its name to ‘ The feast in the house of Levi.’ The Inquisitors wanted people to believe that the painting was from Luke 5:27-31 when Jesus went to Levi, the tax collectors, house.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Luke 5:27-31)
Thank you that you are with me, holding my hand through the mess of my life, when I can’t see the way, you know it. I’m sorry when I try to hide things from you or live without you, either way it never gives me the peace I have when I trust in You to guide me. Please keep holding my hand as I keep my eyes on you to lead me out of difficult situations.