The Pine Tree at Saint Tropez,
Painted by Paul Signac (1863-1935),
Painted in 1909,
Oil on canvas
© Pushkin Museum, Moscow / Wikimedia Commons

The Pine Tree at Saint Tropez,
Painted by Paul Signac (1863-1935),
Painted in 1909,
Oil on canvas
© Pushkin Museum, Moscow / Wikimedia Commons

Gospel of 26 November 2021

As soon as you see any tree bud, you know that summer is near

Luke 21:29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable: 'Think of the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer is now near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.'

Reflection on the Painting

Our painting by Paul Signac is a great example of Pointillism, the systematic application of dots of colours that become blended in the viewer's eye and create a sharp-ish image when seen at a distance. From up very close, we see already  the roots of abstract art. The luminosity and brilliance of colour is very attractive. Our painting depicts the Pin de Bertaud, a famous evergreen tree located near the castle Bertaud in Gassin, a small French village overlooking the gulf of Saint-Tropez. The Bertaud Pine was already a well-known tourist attraction in the 19th century and appeared in guidebooks as early as the 1830s. The tree's popularity was mainly due to its prime positioning in the middle of the road that led to Saint-Tropez.

In our Gospel reading today Jesus says: 'Think of a tree...as soon as you see [it] bud, you know that summer is now near'.  The bold juxtaposition of coloured dots in our painting reflects the budding and blossoming of that tree. Our own life trees, made up of small juxtapositions of acts of kindness and goodness, are invited to blossom. But life is not just about looking after our own trees or families: we are invited to look at the trees around us and see the signs of life and of hope there too. As we come to the end of the Church year, it is a good time to look at the blossoming trees around us and to consider whether our own tree bears fruit. Jesus' mention of the fig tree evokes His earlier parable about the tree that was given a second chance to bear fruit. Soon, with the start of the new liturgical year and Advent, we will have another chance to walk alongside Christ and bear fruit. 

At the end of our short reading, Jesus is prompting us to notice the signs of the times that will help us to distinguish between what really matters and what doesn't matter; between what is of true value and what is fleeting; between the words of this world and the word of God….

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