Today's Gospel in Art - Blessed are...

  • Patrick van der Vorst

The Sermon on the Mount, by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1598 ©  J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

The Sermon on the Mount, by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1598 © J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Gospel of 8th June 2020 - Matthew 5:1-12

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Reflection on Paintingby
The painting of Jan Breughel we are looking at is very small, only 26 by 36cm in size. So as a viewer one needs to go up close to really see what is going on in the painting. Jan Breughel in his composition decided also to put Jesus amongst the crowds. He is hard to see. That is exactly what the people present at the Sermon on the Mount would have experienced. The figure of Christ, almost lost amid the dense, colourful crowd. However, what Jesus said made them all stand up and listen and put Him firmly centre stage. Identified by a pale yellow halo, Christ stands on a small podium near the centre. We can see the disciples behind Jesus. Plenty of further detail to look at. In the foreground, a gypsy is telling fortunes and a vendor sells bread. Looking at the head-dresses, we can see Jews, Arabs, monks, farmers, poor people, rich people, etc… The Sermon on the Mount is for everyone!

Set in a beautiful landscape, this painting shows us the interior landscape of Christ when he gave us the Beatitudes... an interior landscape we are all called to... The Beatitudes are not a set of regulations, but a vision of where true happiness lies… deep inside Christ. Jesus didn't just teach us these 'blesseds' if I can call them that, but he also lived every single one of them… every day... towards everyone.


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Tags: Christian Art Today, Patrick van der Vorst, Jan Brueghel the Elder

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