Christ Blessing, Surrounded by a Donor Family,
Painted by German Painter (probably active Hamburg and Lower Saxony, 1560"“80s),
Oil and gold leaf on oak panel,
Painted between 1573-82,
© Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Christ Blessing, Surrounded by a Donor Family,
Painted by German Painter (probably active Hamburg and Lower Saxony, 1560"“80s),
Oil and gold leaf on oak panel,
Painted between 1573-82,
© Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Gospel of 24 September 2019

My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God

Luke 8: 19-21

The mother and the brothers of Jesus came looking for him, but they could not get to him because of the crowd. He was told, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to see you.’ But he said in answer, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’

Reflection on the Painting

It’s all about family! With the one sentence (‘‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.’’) Christ reveals that every human being can become a member of His family. Closeness to Jesus does not depend on our backgrounds, our respective jobs, social standing, professional achievements, etc… It depends only on ‘hearing the Word and doing it’. Our Good Lord wants everyone to belong to His family!

Two reasons for choosing today’s painting: the sitters surrounding Christ are anonymous; plus also the artist is anonymous, with no attribution to a particular painter. The fact both painter and figures depicted in this painting are anonymous, proves the point that we are ALL called to be part of Christ’s family, no matter what names we have, where we are from, what background we have, what we work at etc… The only person identified in this painting is Christ, and that is where all our focus should go to. So, the donor family remains unidentified, but they surely came from Hamburg, the city whose church spires are shown on the orb in Christ’s hand. The verses inscribed on the reserves above the figures are in Low German, the vernacular of much of northern Germany, taken verbatim from a Low German edition of Martin Luther’s Bible translation.

When we call God as Our Father or Mary as Our Mother, we truly embrace this notion of family that Jesus is inviting us to. Jesus wants us to be His next of kin, His brother, part of His family…. This notion of family comes forth from the very heart of Jesus, wanting to embrace everyone… It is wonderful to realise that we belong to God’s family…!

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