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Learning through Art: Jesus Gives Communion to the Apostles
This painting of Joos Van Gent (Wassenhove fl. 1460-1480) unites Jesus Christ, the Church and the Eucharist in a single harmonious illustration of the Catholic faith. It is perhaps important to begin with an initial teaching point; it is worth helping people realize that such a painting as this is both a historical and a contemporary dimension to it. We do not need to believe, therefore, that the artist wishes us to see every part of the painting as a historical depiction. He is not necessarily wishing to communicate to us that the upper room really looked like this, or that the table was historically laid out lie this, or that the apostles necessarily knelt to receive the body and blood of Christ as he has painted it here. Of course, they may have done. However, what the artist is also trying to show us in the painting is that what Christ did as the last supper with the apostles he, still does for his disciples today at Mass. One way to introduce this painting to those whom we are catechizing is to begin by teaching the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper from this piece of art. Then we can continue by explaining what the painting reveals about Mass today.