Campbell's Soup Cans,
Painted by Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
Painted in 1962,
Acrylic with metallic enamel paint on canvas, 32 panels
© Alamy stock photo / Edward Westmacott / Museum of Modern Art, New York
Do not work for food that cannot last, but for food that endures to eternal life
After Jesus had fed the five thousand, his disciples saw him walking on the water. Next day, the crowd that had stayed on the other side saw that only one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that the disciples had set off by themselves. Other boats, however, had put in from Tiberias, near the place where the bread had been eaten. When the people saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into those boats and crossed to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they found him on the other side, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’
‘I tell you most solemnly,
you are not looking for me because you have seen the signs
but because you had all the bread you wanted to eat.
Do not work for food that cannot last,
but work for food that endures to eternal life,
the kind of food the Son of Man is offering you,
for on him the Father, God himself, has set his seal.’
Then they said to him, ‘What must we do if we are to do the works that God wants?’ Jesus gave them this answer, ‘This is working for God: you must believe in the one he has sent.’
Reflection on the Contemporary Artwork
It is exactly 60 years ago that Andy Warhol painted these 32 canvasses of Campbell soup cans. At the time, in 1962, this work was very avant-garde and visionary. But many people (still) wonder whether it is art. It certainly pushed the boundaries of modern art in a unique way and is one of the quintessential works of art of the 20th century.
When asked why he chose to paint Campbell’s soup cans, Warhol offered a simple reply: “I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again.” Of course the daily meal that Jesus mentions in today’s Gospel reading is totally different. Jesus speaks of two kinds of food: food that cannot last and food that endures to eternal life.
Jesus did not say that food that cannot last is unimportant. On the contrary, he fed the hungry, the poor and the multitude on the mount. The basic nutritional needs of people were important for him. However, having met the physical needs of the people, Jesus prompts us to go beyond this. He wants us to address the spiritual hunger we all have. And this spiritual hunger, only Jesus can address.
The daily meal Jesus is inviting us to, is the eucharist. It is the centre of our faith. It will address our spiritual hunger and guide us. It will also make us relate to people, not just addressing their physical needs (alms, food, health, etc..). I will will make us relate to them not just for what they need, but also for who they are.
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