There is a fresco painting on the wall of a Convent cell in Florence, Italy, created in 1438 by one of the great painters of that time, Fra Angelico. It is one of the most unique and disturbing artworks I have ever looked at. It is an image of Jesus seated as a king yet blindfolded and suffering humiliation and physical assault by disembodied hands. I borrow the following paragraph description from the book Mindfulness by Christophe Andre.
In an unreal, dream-like atmosphere of supernatural peace, the blindfolded Christ is assaulted–not by actual figures, but by blows and spitting, slaps and a stick. His extraordinary, abstract assailants are suspended in midair. What’s more, Jesus is being assaulted, but he is also sitting on a throne in majesty, holding a reed sceptre and the orb of a worldly king. How can he be at once humiliated and triumphant?
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that seated at his feet is his mother Mary and St. Dominic, and while they are not indifferent to Jesus, they seem to be unfazed by his suffering. This is one of the dangers we need to protect ourselves against as we relive the Passion of Jesus each year at Easter. We cannot allow ourselves to be unfazed by the sufferings Jesus endured for us, no matter how many times we have experienced that description before. Therefore, I encourage you to experience this coming Holy Week, not from the distance of 2000 years, but rather by imagining yourself as present in Jerusalem watching Jesus being arrested and condemned. Consider seeing your best friend being slapped, spit on, struck with rods and finally nailed to a cross to die. And then imagine the elation you would feel in the knowledge that he has risen from the dead, that despite the humiliation he has faced, in the end, he is triumphant; he is the saviour of the world.
Fr. Edward Gibney
Associate State Chaplain