Today's Gospel in Art - If your brother does something wrong...

  • Patrick van der Vorst

The Brothers (Sunset), by Caspar David Friedrich, 1830 © Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

The Brothers (Sunset), by Caspar David Friedrich, 1830 © Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

Gospel of 6th September 2020 - Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: 'If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

'I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

'I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.'

Reflection on the Painting

To be Christians means to be true brothers and sisters. We are not mere members of an organisation or a club. Jesus wants the relationships between Christians to be like relationships between our own blood kin... the kind of love and loyalty and dedication we see in our own families. Jesus is telling us to have this same attitude towards all Christians. In our seminary, we often call each other 'brother' when we talk to one another, as a sign of closeness and that we are together in our shared Christian mission and unique experience of seminary.

Our painting by Caspar David Friedrich (arguably the best German Romantic landscape painter of his time), shows two brothers at sunset. The sixth of ten children, Caspar David was raised in a strict Lutheran household. The greatest tragedy of his childhood happened in 1787 when his brother Johann Christoffer died at the age of thirteen. Caspar David witnessed up close his younger brother falling through the ice of a frozen lake, and drowning. No doubt that event was on his mind when he painted our beautiful painting, setting two brothers as contemplative silhouettes against the evening skies. As we are looking at the two figures from the back contemplating nature, we contemplate with them the beautiful landscapes and sunset that stir such emotions in our souls. God reveals Himself in nature, and we participate in the joy the brothers share of simply being together… and whether the two of them are true blood-brothers, or simply two friends… Jesus is calling all of us to be sisters and brothers in Him.


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Tags: Christian Art, Patrick van der Vorst, Caspar David Friedrich

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