Today's Gospel in Art - The Son of Man is master of the sabbath

  • Patrick van der Vorst

The Son of Man, by René Magritte, 1964 © Comité Magritte - Private collection

The Son of Man, by René Magritte, 1964 © Comité Magritte - Private collection

Gospel of 5th September 2020 - Luke 6:1-5

One sabbath Jesus happened to be taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples were picking ears of corn, rubbing them in their hands and eating them. Some of the Pharisees said, 'Why are you doing something that is forbidden on the sabbath day?' Jesus answered them, 'So you have not read what David did when he and his followers were hungry how he went into the house of God, took the loaves of offering and ate them and gave them to his followers, loaves which only the priests are allowed to eat?' And he said to them, 'The Son of Man is master of the sabbath.'

Reflection on the Surrealist Painting

The last sentence in our reading says 'The Son of Man is master of the sabbath'. Our artwork today is titled 'The Son of Man' by René Magritte, painted in 1946. At first it doesn't appear to be a religious painting at all… I think most of us are familiar with the image, a self portrait of the artist. About this painting Magritte said: At least the apple hides the face partly. Well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It's something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present'.

Though the image of a modern man in a suit and a floating apple (perhaps a reference to the apple in the Garden of Eden) doesn't immediately suggest religious iconography, the title Son of Man does. In our Christian faith, the 'Son of Man' clearly refers to Jesus. As the painting is a play on the visible and invisible, so is Jesus the magnificent revelation of God himself… the invisible God, visible…

Our painting is in a private collection… thus not visible to the public… As a little aside, the apple in our painting was also used in the 1966 painting Le Jeu De Morre, which was owned by Paul McCartney, and which inspired the Beatles to name their record company Apple Corps…, and subsequently through this, Steve Jobs named his company Apple Computer…


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Tags: Christian Art, Patrick van der Vorst, Apple, René Magritte

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