The Procession to Calvary,
Painted by Pieter Breughel the Elder (1526-1569),
Painted circa 1564,
Oil on oak,
© Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The Procession to Calvary,
Painted by Pieter Breughel the Elder (1526-1569),
Painted circa 1564,
Oil on oak,
© Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Gospel of 8 November 2023

Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple

Luke 14:25-33

Great crowds accompanied Jesus on his way and he turned and spoke to them. ‘If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

‘And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost to see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, the onlookers would all start making fun of him and saying, “Here is a man who started to build and was unable to finish.” Or again, what king marching to war against another king would not first sit down and consider whether with ten thousand men he could stand up to the other who advanced against him with twenty thousand? If not, then while the other king was still a long way off, he would send envoys to sue for peace. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.’

Reflection on the painting

We admire Jesus, we agree with his teaching, we glory in his love for us, we love him… But… we are very reticent to suffer for him or to accept the humiliation of the cross for ourselves… But that is exactly what Jesus is asking of us in today's Gospel reading. Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471) put it beautifully: 'Many come following Jesus who love His heavenly kingdom but few come looking forward to suffering. Many admire His miracles but few follow Him in humiliation to the cross.'

Jesus wants us to think about what we commit to when we really want to follow him. He compares our commitment to planning to build a tower. Before we began to do that, we would calculate how much it would cost, what materials we need, draw up solid plans, etc... When we commit ourselves to a life of discipleship, we must understand what it takes and count the cost at times as well. Blind commitment that expects only blessings is of no use to God. God wants disciples who are committed and prepared to make the necessary sacrifices also.

And so our painting by Pieter Breughel the Elder shows the Procession to Calvary and the sacrifice Christ made for us. We see Christ as a small figure in the background. The crowds are more prominent. He made the sacrifice 2,000 years ago; now it is up to the crowds, us, to take up our cross too. As we do that, Mary, placed firmly in the foreground of our painting, will be there for us every step of the way too. She is flanked by Saint John and the two other Marys.

This panel is the second-largest known painting by Bruegel. Breughel painted Christ in the background. We have to carefully look to find him. This accentuates the theological aspect that Christ became truly human like any of the other figures in the painting. With the exception of Christ himself, the figures in the procession wear contemporary dress. On the mount of Golgotha (literally, 'the place of the skull') the two crosses which are to bear the bodies of the thieves have been erected and a hole is being dug for the cross which is to bear Christ's body. Onlookers on foot and on horseback flock towards this gruesome spot through a landscape dotted with gallows on which corpses still hang and wheels to which fragments of cloth and remnants of broken bodies not eaten by the ravens still cling.

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spaceforgrace
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spaceforgrace
7 months ago

It just means we should put Him first.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
7 months ago

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him 1 John 4:16

Madeleine Blu
Member
Madeleine Blu
7 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Amen

Elvira
Member
Elvira
7 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Así es
y un poco más adelante: “Nosotros hemos encontrado el amor que Dios nos tiene, y hemos creído en su amor” 1Jn 4,16

Elvira
Member
Elvira
7 months ago

Mi reflexión : A algunos les preocupa como va bajando el número de cristianos, en el evangelio de hoy a Jesús le interesa más la calidad de sus seguidores que su cantidad. Cuando habla de la familia no creo que se trate de romper la convivencia familiar, ni de eliminar el cariño ….., pero si pongo por delante mis intereses, patrimonio, mi forma de pensar y sentir, no podré trabajar con Él en su proyecto de un mundo más humano (Reino de Dios)
¿Es posible hablar del Evangelio ignorando la situación, los sentimientos,, el pensamiento, incluso el lenguaje de los hombres y mujeres de nuestro tiempo?

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
7 months ago
Reply to  Elvira

Quality not quantity Elvira?

Elvira
Member
Elvira
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Somos pocos, pero intentamos ser perfectos, como nuestro Padre celestial es perfecto

Elvira
Member
Elvira
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Mt 5,48

Graham B.
Member
Graham B.
7 months ago

I’ve just caught up with CA. Hmmmmmm I have a slight disagreement with the commentary from Father Patrick today. I think the wheel in the right hand corner of the picture, on a pole, is there for nesting Storks. I refer to the children’s book “The Wheel on the School” by Meindert DeJong and culturally to have a nesting Stork is very important to the Dutch. Actually also important across Eastern Europe (where I have briefly worked). So the fact that the wheel is empty is a sign of things going badly or bad luck. Always happy to be “wrong” however that is my interpretation.

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
7 months ago
Reply to  Graham B.

Thanks Graham. Wow, Breughel’s work is such history-graphic. And now I’m needing to investigate a li’l deeper myself. Interestingly your disagreement isn’t with Fr. per say . It looks like he got his info from Wikipedia as per its quote:
“On the mount of Golgotha (literally, ‘place of skulls’) the two crosses which are to bear the bodies of the thieves have been erected and a hole is being dug for the cross which is to bear Christ’s body, as may be seen in the detail at left. Onlookers on foot and on horseback flock towards this gruesome spot through a landscape dotted with gallows on which corpses still hang and wheels to which fragments of cloth and remnants of broken bodies not eaten by the ravens still cling. ”

Perhaps you need to offer an edit to Wikipedia…/ ?

Thanks for the DeJong children’s book reference. As per ‘Wikipedia, I also discovered “The Mill and the Cross”, a polish film directed by Lech Majewski. 2011. It’s on YouTube … and only having stated it looks VERY GOOD.

I was thrown a li’l, searching for “Christ in the background”, defaulting to search the tiny figures proximate to the ‘place of the sculls’/ circle of execution, which mimics the ‘right-hand wheel, just below to the left. Interestingly, its cross’s crossarm, almost dead center to the panel, that locates the fallen figure of our Lord below. There was another famous children’s book from years ago, “Where’s Waldo” , I’m sure the concept was inspired by Breughel (grin). Is there not something profoundly ‘Childlike’ about the Gospel reading today … that can only be understood/’found out’, if we ‘see our cross in the midst of our ‘right-now, day in day out lives’ , stripped of all possessions, assumption, expectations?

Elvira
Member
Elvira
7 months ago
Reply to  Will Howard

A mi también me costó encontrarlo. muy buena la comparación con Waldo.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
7 months ago
Reply to  Elvira

Pero on poco irreverente!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

No creo

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
7 months ago

No and a convent life would be very hard I would think. A great aunt of mine entered Carmel and was dead in her late 20s. All her family said they had worked her to death but I don’t know.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Yo tengo 2 sobrinas en El Carmelo. Entraron con 21 y 23 años y dicen que son totalmente felices. La primera ya ha hecho los votos

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
7 months ago
Reply to  Elvira

Felicidades a los dos. 🙏

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
7 months ago
Reply to  Elvira

This was many years ago and possibly she was not well when she went in. I never knew her.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
7 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

How sad- but maybe Jesus wanted her home?

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
7 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Maybe SFG. That’s a very nice interpretation. I must send her a little prayer this evening and tell her to look out for me and everyone else here.🥹

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