Designed and executed by Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968),
Conceived in 1913,
This version executed in 1951
Metal wheel on painted stool
© Museum of Modern Art (Moma), New York
This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen
Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.
Reflection on the 'Readymade' Conceptual Art Work
Two points about today’s reading. First of all Jesus is reminding us that the Christian faith is open to everyone. Before Jesus, salvation, was believed only to be available to the Jewish people. Christ changed this. Salvation was open to all. We kind of take this for granted now, but it was a topic of great controversy in the early years of the Church. Thanks to the work of the great apostles Peter and especially Paul, salvation in Christ was open to all: to the Romans and Greeks, pagans and Jews, free men and slaves… all could come to the knowledge and the love of God. God’s mercy is there for everyone!
The second point that strikes me in today’s reading is: how dynamic is the Word of God! Jesus says: ‘this text is being fulfilled today, even as you listen’. Yes, God’s Word continues to inspire and be fulfilled today. It is an ongoing process. Studying here in Rome, and especially focusing in our first year studies on the early Church, we realise that history always repeats itself. It is a wheel. The times we live in now are not that dissimilar to Jesus’ times. The same worries we share, same anxiety, political turmoil, social needs, etc… Scripture has a core meaning and message, but it also is the source for ongoing revelation. That is why each time we read the same Gospel passage at different moments in our lives, it speaks to us differently and more things ‘reveal’ themselves to us. It is an ongoing, dynamic process. The wheels of history repeat themselves and our own spiritual wheels get oiled by new revelations from Scripture on a daily basis.
Marcel Duchamp conceived this inverted bicycle wheel mounted on top of a wooden kitchen stool already in 1913, which was so incredibly ahead of its time. The work is made from two preexisting objects taken from our everyday life surroundings. The movable wheel contrasts with the static stool. The object overall is static and can’t go anywhere, but yet when the wheel turns it is dynamic. Same with Scripture. It has the fixed readings, content and text. But yet it is dynamic and moves when we decide to put the wheels in motion… and enjoy its soothing movement…
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