Painted by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997),
Executed in 1964. This work is number four from an edition of five,
porcelain enamel on steel
© Alamy / Christie’s New York, 9 November 2015, lot 22a, sold $13,381,000
Happy you who weep now; you shall laugh
Fixing his eyes on his disciples Jesus said:
‘How happy are you who are poor: yours is the kingdom of God.
Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied.
Happy you who weep now: you shall laugh.
Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.
‘But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry.
Alas for you who laugh now: you shall mourn and weep.
‘Alas for you when the world speaks well of you! This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.’
Reflection on the painting on copper
During the late 1950s many American painters began to adapt the imagery and motifs of comic strips and pop culture, integrating them in their art works. One of the ground-breaking artists of this Pop Art movement was Roy Lichtenstein. His Crying Girl here goes beyond just a depiction of comic strip emotions. Lichtenstein depicts the glamorous idealisation of an American girl. But there is more going on. On the outside she seems beautiful, but inside the emotions burst out, showing that beneath the perfection she is truly struggling… She seems almost trapped, reflecting the state of many women in America during the 1960’s, according to Lichtenstein, as women were fighting for equality. Alongside the painting of the crying woman, we can almost place Jesus' comforting words right next to it: 'Happy you who weep now; you shall laugh'.
In today’s reading Jesus goes against the grain of our instinct. We usually would want to move on from crying to laughter, from poverty to riches, or from hunger to eating; etc… However, Jesus tells us that each of these less desirable states (from which we instinctively would want to move along) can be states of blessing. So it is a message of hope, that any of us who are sad and weep, are blessed, as there will a time when God will wipe those tears from our eyes… For we all have wept at some stage in our lives (the loss of a family member, illness, disappointments at work, etc…). In a culture that values strength and grows uncomfortable with tears, Jesus tells us that he is walking with us in our valley of tears… and that God will turn our tears into shouts of joy…
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to Luke 6:20-26
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: