The Ethiopian Eunuch

Philip eunuch

Readings
Rembrandt’s biblical subjects are always interesting. They say as a child he used to sit with his mother while she prayed and look at the illustrations in her prayerbook. All his life the painter was attracted to the bible. Even without a commission, he’d sketch a biblical story that caught his eye.

Here’s the Ethiopian eunuch–our reading from Acts for today– kneeling and looking intently at the stream of water, waiting to be baptized by Philip the deacon. He’s been profoundly moved by the story he’s been told.

His servant stands behind him holding his rich outer garments. He’s the queen’s treasurer, don’t forget. An imposing guard on horseback, armed to the teeth, maybe an Ethiopian security agent, looks on. The rest of his retinue stand back, maybe puzzled by it all and anxious to get on their way on the long trip home from Jerusalem.

Like Zacchaeus, another rich man Luke recalls, the Ethiopian sees something greater than riches in Jesus and the water that promises life.

Though visibly absent, the Holy Spirit who orchestrated this scene is here too. .

How does it all turn out, we wonder? When they get home, does the eunuch get sacked because the security agent turns him in for foolish behavior? Does the servant who watched the baptism become a follower of Jesus too? Did the eunuch tell the Queen the story of Jesus? Did he ever get back to Jerusalem again?

Luke is a wonderful story-teller. Rembrandt is too.

4 Comments

Filed under art, Passionists, Religion, Travel

4 responses to “The Ethiopian Eunuch

  1. disciullo77

    Thank you so much for this. The illustration by Rembrandt really brings out the essential moment of the readings from the Act of the Apostles today. Art has a wonderful way of “drawing” us into the real essence of the story. 🙂

    It’s so moving to see how passionate and interested a great artist like Rembrandt’s had in these moments from the readings and Gospels.

  2. Isabel Nepomuceno

    The paintings you include and the provocative questions “behind” them help me expand my reading of scriptures. Reminds me of Rembrandt paintings we saw here in Chicago. Thanks, Fr. VH.

  3. Phil Walch

    Very interesting. Thanks.

  4. vhoagland

    Thanks, Fr. Randal. Good to see you here in Detroit. We use your vocational prayer at our Jamaica monastery. Let’s pray for more.
    FV

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