This is an illumination that deserves lengthy contemplation, as each diagonal stripe in the left-hand side of the page contains images from 5 parables in the book of Luke: “The Lost Coin” (15:8-10); “The Lost Sheep” (15:4-7); “The Good Samaritan” (10:29-37); “The Lost Son” (15:11-32); and “Lazarus and Dives” (16:19-31).
In the upper corner, the moon-like coin and the sheep turned toward the light represent the repenting sinner, and the golden angels rejoice in each act of contrition. Meanwhile in the lower corner a father brings his best cloak to welcome a wandering son with tears of forgiveness, and Dives agonizes in Hell while angels sing Lazarus to his rest in Abraham’s arms. Abraham is identified by Hebrew letters. The father’s cloak, Lazarus’s angels, and Dives’s arm all point to a powerful symbol of the challenge of forgiving evil: the Twin Towers.
On the right we see Mary and Martha clad in mirror-embellished and embroidered fabrics, listening to Jesus perhaps tell a parable. The words on this page read “There is need of only one thing” (Luke 10:42), and that one thing is to listen. Susan Sink explains:
Martha stands in her apron with hands on hips and looks impatient, but at the same time she is, like her sister seated beside her, also gazing at the Lord. Martha and Mary are two sides of love and care, two images of hospitality, a value that is central to the Benedictine tradition. (Art of The Saint John’s Bible, Vol. 1, p. 81)
Filling spaces between diagonals and borders are elements from a mandala, meant according to Donald Jackson “to suggest the way the mind and intelligence work to interpret and understand concepts, like teasing out the meaning of parables and applying them to our contemporary lives.” (Ibid., p. 84)