The commentary of the cover

Faith, O Night More Lovely than the Dawn by Pierre-Marie Dumont

Here, the backdrop of shadows from which the disciples emerge, each more or less illumined by the presence of the Risen One, does not represent the world of disbelief but, on the contrary, the most beautiful faith, that which attains perfection in the dark night. So true is this that, in the heart of these shadows, Rembrandt represents the disciple whom Christ loved lying down and sleeping (see www.magnificat.com/april2019 to view the entire painting). Blessed is he who believed without seeing! Indeed, the Gospel of Saint John tells us that this disciple, arriving at the empty tomb where nothing could be seen but the absence of Christ’s body, saw and believed. And now, when Thomas wishes at all costs to see, to touch, to place his finger in Christ’s wounds, the Beloved Disciple sleeps the peaceful slumber of the blessed:

On that glad night,in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

                                                                        Saint John of the Cross

In order to believe the unbelievable, Thomas requires proof. And Jesus offers him that proof in person, inviting him to confirm the marks of his Passion: Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe. Rembrandt closely follows the Gospel lesson (Jn 20:26-29): abashed, Thomas no longer needs to touch in order to believe. In the end, the real presence of the Lord and his word is enough for him. Stunned, he exclaims, My Lord and my God! And Jesus says to him, Have you come to believe because you have seen me? For our benefit, the Risen One adds, Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.

When at each Mass, having read the word of the Lord, the priest raises the consecrated host and—though nothing but bread can be seen—faith in the Real Presence burns in our hearts, how can we not exclaim within ourselves, My Lord and my God!?

 

Pierre-Marie Dumont

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (1634), Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), Pushkin Museum, Moscow, Russia. © AISA / Leemage.