Today's Gospel in Art - The seed grows into a tree where birds shelter

Migrant Fruit Birds, by Fred Tomaselli  2006 © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy Glenstone

Migrant Fruit Birds, by Fred Tomaselli 2006 © Fred Tomaselli. Image courtesy Glenstone

Gospel of 27th July 2020 - Matthew 13:31-35

Jesus put a parable before the crowds: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the biggest shrub of all and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and shelter in its branches.'

He told them another parable: 'The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.'

In all this Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables; indeed, he would never speak to them except in parables. This was to fulfil the prophecy:

I will speak to you in parables and expound things hidden since the foundation of the world.

Reflection on the Painting

One of the positive outcomes of the Corona lockdown period is that it has awakened in us a growing desire to meaningfully connect again with the natural world around us. I personally have tried to go for longer walks in London, using its magnificent parks, like never before. I know I am not the only one. For many, the lockdown has fostered a resurgence of interest in nature and its flora and creatures that surround us daily, such as the birds depicted in our painting.

Jesus talks about birds in our reading today. He knew that birds are in a way also allegories for our own earthbound existence. Birds can do what humans can't: fly. This comes with a great sense of freedom and optimism that we associate with birds. Jesus' words today burst with this same optimism: the Kingdom of God is a small seed, that grows into a big tree. So if we feed our faith, nurture it and rejoice in it, it can turn into something truly beautiful…. like a tree that can house little birds that can nest, sing and fly within the tree…

Fred Tomaselli is an American artist who incorporates collage, paint and other materials on a resin coated panel, always inviting the viewer into an illusory world. The birds in the trees are executed with finest detailing, set against a dark background, revealing their true splendour amongst the leaves… Jesus often paints images of smallness when describing the heavenly kingdom, such as a mustard seed… He points out significance in what might otherwise get overlooked…


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Tags: Christian Art, Patrick van der Vorst, Fred Tomaselli

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