Today's Gospel in Art - Five wise and five foolish virgins

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins, by Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow 1842, © 2019 Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins, by Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow 1842, © 2019 Städel Museum, Frankfurt, Germany

Gospel of 30th August 2019 - Matthew 25: 1-13

Jesus told this parable to his disciples: 'The kingdom of heaven will be like this: Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, "The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him." At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, "Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out." But they replied, "There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves." They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. "Lord, Lord," they said "open the door for us." But he replied, "I tell you solemnly, I do not know you." So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.'

Reflection on the Painting

Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow was a German Romantic painter. The German Romantics viewed the Middle Ages as a simpler and somehow truer period of integrated culture. Romanticism was a complex phenomenon, as rather than just being an art movement, it involved social attitudes towards nearly everything in society, such as literature, music, social care, philosophy etc. From a Christian Art angle, the main point of the German romantics is that they viewed that art cannot be learned; art emerges from divine inspiration. The artist's role therefore is a mediator between the world and the divine. As such, even landscapes could be highly religious forms of art, as they viewed nature to be the visible 'spirit' and as evidence of the divine. Anyway, all this to place today's painting in its historical context.

It always puzzled me, why the five wise virgins didn't share their oil with the foolish virgins. That would be our first reaction when reading this passage, right? Jesus teaches us over and over again to share food with the poor, for the rich man to give possessions away, for him who has two coats to share one, etc etc… To read on see:

Tags: Christian Art Today, Wise and Foolish Virgins, Patrick van der Vorst, #Art

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