Today's Gospel in Art - The one who received the seed in thorns

Pelle di Marmo e Spine d'Acacia, by Giuseppe Penone  2002 © Penone & Sothebys, 9 December 2015, lot 28

Pelle di Marmo e Spine d'Acacia, by Giuseppe Penone 2002 © Penone & Sothebys, 9 December 2015, lot 28

Gospel of 24th July 2020 - Matthew 13:18-23

Jesus said to his disciples: 'You are to hear the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart: this is the man who received the seed on the edge of the path. The one who received it on patches of rock is the man who hears the word and welcomes it at once with joy. But he has no root in him, he does not last; let some trial come, or some persecution on account of the word, and he falls away at once. The one who received the seed in thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the lure of riches choke the word and so he produces nothing. And the one who received the seed in rich soil is the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.'

Reflection on the work of art

Italian Arte Povera artist Giuseppe Penone made this work using thorns attached onto a canvas. I am showing you a detailed shot of his work, so you can clearly see the thorns. These sharp, pointy, threatening thorns are in stark contrast with the smooth, pure, white canvas. In the late 1960's Penone began to develop his artistic style in the forests near his hometown of Garessio, Italy. By recognising, altering and interacting with the natural cycles of the forest, using the various materials the forest gave him, he blurred the distinction between his own physical self and the trees that surrounded him. His art became one with nature and nature one with his art.

The thorns Jesus mentions in the Parable of the Sower, are in a way like our work of art today. Our soul is the smooth, pure canvas ready to receive the painting of the Word by the Master Artist which is God. However, the thorns grow up with our own permission on the surface of our soul, preventing from the Word from fully penetrating into our hearts.

Jesus mentions two things that act like thorns in our lives: worldly worries and the lure of riches. Worries, of course, we all have. But Jesus is prompting us not to let these worries take over our entire souls. Prayer can break the power of our worries! Riches, on the other hand, are like a false god looking for our worship. Yes, riches offer security and freedom, but will never ultimately fulfil us... Only Christ can offer total fulfilment and meet our every need…


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Tags: Christian Art, Patrick van der Vorst, Giuseppe Penone

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