The Ghent Altarpiece,
Painted by Jan Van Eyck (1390-1441) & Hubert Van Eyck (1385-1426),
Oil on panel,
begun mid-1420s and completed before 1432,
© St Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium

The Ghent Altarpiece,
Painted by Jan Van Eyck (1390-1441) & Hubert Van Eyck (1385-1426),
Oil on panel,
begun mid-1420s and completed before 1432,
© St Bavo’s Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium

Gospel of 11 November 2019

If your brother does something wrong, reprove him

Luke 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Obstacles are sure to come, but alas for the one who provides them! It would be better for him to be thrown into the Sea with a millstone put round his neck than that he should lead astray a single one of these little ones. Watch yourselves!

If your brother does something wrong, reprove him and, if he is sorry, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times a day and seven times comes back to you and says, “I am sorry,” you must forgive him.’

The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you.’

Reflection on the Altarpiece

'If your brother does something wrong, reprove him’ Jesus tells us today. This may sound a little harsh at first, but upon deeper reflection it isn’t. There is a big difference between ‘telling someone off’ and ‘reproving him’. Telling someone off comes out of a negative place; it comes out of a place of annoyance or impatience; the ‘reproving’ Jesus mentions comes out of a place of love and generosity. It is done with the intention to help the other person. To help him grow, to help him improve, to help him be a better man. Whilst receiving praise is flattering and motivating, it rarely helps us grow as a person. Often the criticism we receive, if it comes from a place of genuine love (as in the the other person wills the good for you), can be a great source for personal growth and growth towards God.

Also this word of ‘reproving’ is a beautiful word, as it implies a certain gentleness within it and a kindness of intent. Just like in art REstoring a painting or REpairing an antique piece of furniture, brings back great beauty and radiance to the work of art, so can the REproving we receive from our friends, colleagues, formation staff etc, genuinely help us to bring (back) in our spiritual lives.

A few months ago, I had a pleasure of seeing the restoration up close of the brothers Jan & Hubert Van Eyck Ghent Altarpiece and what a joy it was to see not only the meticulous brushstrokes applied by the artist, but to also to see the vibrancy of colours being revealed again through the restoration. As carefully executed, professional restoration simply returns the artwork to its original appearance, as intended by the artist, … so can true reproval return us to be close to our own Artist Creator too and restore us to what we were intended to be……

For more details on the Ghent Altarpiece restoration, click here.

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