Nobody Likes me,
Executed by iHeart,
Street Art, sprayed paint on wall,
Spayed in 2017 at Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada
© iHeart urban artist

Nobody Likes me,
Executed by iHeart,
Street Art, sprayed paint on wall,
Spayed in 2017 at Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada
© iHeart urban artist

Gospel of 20 September 2023

They are like children shouting

Luke 7:31-35

Jesus said to the people:

‘What description can I find for the men of this generation? What are they like? They are like children shouting to one another while they sit in the market-place:

‘“We played the pipes for you, and you wouldn’t dance;

we sang dirges, and you wouldn’t cry.”

‘For John the Baptist comes, not eating bread, not drinking wine, and you say, “He is possessed.” The Son of Man comes, eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” Yet Wisdom has been proved right by all her children.’

Reflection on the Street Artwork

Jesus in today's Gospel reading is trying to shake us up! Jesus is telling us to grow up! He must have seen childishness in how some of the adults around him behaved. Children tend to be impulsive and act out of their feelings instantly. Jesus saw that adults, too, can have simplistic expectations and readily make superficial judgements. He is inviting us to see beyond the surface and to go deeper in our assessments and in our prayers.

Reading this Gospel reading made me think of how in our social media age, so many of the social comments on Facebook, Twitter etc are like 'the children shouting in the marketplace’ that Jesus is referring to: momentary and often shallow engagement. Social media is of course a fantastic tool, allowing us to communicate with great speed and efficiency, facilitating communication between people. It can also educate us, inform us, teach us things, enable us to discover new ideas and to be more socially aware, etc… Like everything else, social media can be used for both good and bad. Apart from the obvious negative aspects of social media that often get reported on in the press (bullying, addiction, scams, cheating, etc…), Jesus is asking us to take the time we need to let the surface chatter go, be kind to each other and ultimately to listen for God… yes, also when we are on social media.

Not much is known about iHeart, a Vancouver street artist whose work we are looking at today. He describes himself as “just a boy with ideas, opinions and a whole lot of aerosol”. This image got a major boost from Banksy, after he posted photos of this work on his Facebook page. It was a social media post about a work that was criticising what social media is doing to us. our street artwork captures the essence of the dangers of social media. We see a young boy getting no likes or comments on what he has posted, and it is making him deeply sad, to the point of shouting out his frustrations. Indeed sometimes we are like 'children shouting', when we loose the bigger picture of life.

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Pauline Wood
Pauline Wood(@paulinewood)
2 months ago

When I post ‘Catholic’ news or prayers on my Social Media pages, the ‘likes’ are no where to be seen! Tumbleweed blows across that desert haha but I live in hope that maybe something might lodge with someone?! Like Chazbo says, ‘I know how to get likes if I want them!’ but what I want is to always know God’s love for me, for us. How many of the world’s ‘likes’ and praises could compete with that?!

Social media is definitely like the market place Jesus describes. Come on, dance for us! Boo, you won’t perform when we want you to…

I love that poem by Elizabeth Hampton especially the last lines advising to listen for something else in that silence. I’m so thankful that your son made it through the noise and the pain. Thanks be to God!

Chazbo’s story makes me think of that phrase, ‘No good turn goes unpunished’ I can’t stand it! It’s so difficult but undeserved suffering only seems to make sense via The Cross and the Mass?

I’m not too keen on how this kind of art looks – although I think it does have a lot of energy and skill. I can see how the message gets across directly – so there’s a lot packed into it. Maybe I shouldn’t be so judgemental. It is punchy and easily understood across cultures and ages.

Chazbo M
Chazbo M(@chazbo)
2 months ago
Reply to  Pauline Wood

At first I thought you had made a mistake with ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ but having looked it up it starts with St Thomas Aquinas and is a sardonic twist on his wisdom.
Someone sprayed a picture like this on a building I have an interest in. I’ll try and send it tomorrow. It has a religious message. Going out to meet a few friends this evening – I hope that they are on good form 🙂

2 months ago

First thought: where is this child’s mother or grandmother, or whoever cares, to comfort his distress (and teach him how to use his phone safely!)?
Second thought: drawing on others’ comments about the dangers of social media, there used to be a concept of “custody of the senses” whereby one exerted self-control not to look at images, listen to sounds, touch items, etc. which might lead one’s soul into danger. It’s taken me a long while, not least because of the worldly people’s reproaches “you have to experience new things!” etc, but often (not always, yet) I can pray “Father, lead me not into temptation”.
Third thought: the only “chats” I need are with God (prayer, or even less formal words);
the only “likes” I need are God’s;
and I need no followers, but only to be whole-heartedly a follower of Him.

Which brings us back to point one, who will teach these things to this child?

The Gospel of today’s reading: maybe a rare glimpse into children’s games of Jesus’ time? Were they perhaps playing “weddings” (playing the pipes) and “funerals”
(playing the dirges) and complaining at those who didn’t join in?
An interesting contrast between the approaches of Jesus and John the Baptist.

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