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Gospel in Art: Pick up your cross every day and follow me

  • Father Patrick van der Vorst

Cornish Holiday, Daymer Bay, Rock, by John Dyer, 2023 © The John Dyer Gallery, all rights reserved

Cornish Holiday, Daymer Bay, Rock, by John Dyer, 2023 © The John Dyer Gallery, all rights reserved

Source: Christian Art

Gospel of 15 February 2024
Luke 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:

'The Son of Man is destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.'

Then to all he said:

'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to have won the whole world and to have lost or ruined his very self?'

Reflection on the painting

When we hear the language of self-renunciation in today's gospel reading, we can think of it as something negative, a saying 'no' to things. Perhaps that is some people's perception of Christianity. They perceive that as part of our religion we can't do this, are not allowed that, etc.... They see Christianity as something negative. Yet, the call of Jesus is fundamentally positive. He calls us to follow him and, in doing so, to find life. Jesus' call to renounce ourselves is in the service of that positive call to follow him as the source of life. By renouncing we get life!

Jesus calls us into a personal relationship with himself and he promises us that if we respond to his call we will become fully alive as human beings; we will save our life, in the words of the gospel reading. There are two small words in today's gospel reading that often strike me: 'every day'. Jesus says, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me'. Jesus is saying that following him is something we need to do 'every day', and, 'every day', this will involve some form of renunciation and taking up the cross, some saying 'no' to what may often seem an easier path. It is as if Jesus is saying that we never take a holiday from trying to follow him more closely. There are no days off.

In that sense the idyllic holiday scene as painted by John Dyer doesn't apply to our faith, as we can't really take a chunk of time off from our commitment to God. That said, maybe in fact this painting does illustrate the exact opposite: that being close to God brings us this wonderful colourful, bright joy to the rest of our days. John Dyer is one of Cornwall's best-known artists. He is the artist in residence for the Eden Project in the UK and an official Artist for the Earth with EarthDay.org in the USA, all celebrating the beauty of our planet.

(For more information on John Dyer see: www.johndyergallery.com )

FURTHER LINKS

Gospel in Art: https://christian.art/
Today's Reflection: https://christian.art/daily-gospel-reading/luke-9-22-25-2024/


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