Crucifixion,
Painted by Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009),
Print issued in 2001,
Screenprint on paper, numbered edition of 75, printed and published by Advanced Graphics, London
© Bonhams London, 7 December 2022

Crucifixion,
Painted by Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009),
Print issued in 2001,
Screenprint on paper, numbered edition of 75, printed and published by Advanced Graphics, London
© Bonhams London, 7 December 2022

Gospel of 28 May 2024

What about us? We have left everything...

Mark 10:28-31

At that time Peter began to tell Jesus, ‘What about us? We have left everything and followed you.’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you solemnly, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not be repaid a hundred times over, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – not without persecutions – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last first.’

Reflection on the Lithograph

In this morning’s gospel reading, Peter speaks up on behalf of all the disciples who have given up a great deal for the sake of Jesus: they have left everything to follow him. Jesus assures Peter and the others that they will receive far more than they have left behind, both in this life and in the next. Following Jesus, living the gospel, regardless of our particular state in life, will always be demanding and require sacrifices. These can be financial sacrifices or social ones whereby we lose some good friends over our desire to follow Jesus, etc... The gospel will always call us beyond the world we have created for ourselves and where we are most comfortable. In that sense, responding to the Lord’s call will always involve a dying to ourselves so as to live for others--some form of self-giving.

The assurance Jesus gives us in this morning’s gospel reading is that in giving in this way, we will receive far more than we give. The greatest act of self-giving in history is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Jesus willingly sacrificed himself on the cross as an atonement for the sins of humanity. Hence the great act of self-giving is also the greatest act of love the world has ever witnessed. Self-giving and love go hand in hand. The more we love, the more we have to give of ourselves.... and the more we will receive in this life and the next.

Hence today's artwork is a crucifixion scene. Craigie Aitchison, a British painter known for his distinctive use of colour, created several Crucifixion scenes which are characterised by their simplicity. Aitchison depicts small crucifixes set against vast, empty monochromatic spaces, emphasising the isolation and significance of the central figure. They depict the cruelty of the crucifixion, set against a joyful, colourful backdrop. A visual paradox. Despite the simplicity of these compositions, they evoke a sense of solemnity and contemplation.

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Marilee Pittman
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Marilee Pittman
1 month ago

I love this painting. It’s like a child’s art. Stark, dramatic, and bold. . The vertical pencil thin crucifix against the bold horizontal red and blue makes such a statement. I’m not sure what it is…

I

Pk
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Pk
1 month ago

Totally agree!!

Jeanne M
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Jeanne M
1 month ago

At the crucifixion, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land.” Hence the dark sky? And Jesus is alone, except for one inquisitive dog, and the two perching birds – why are they blue? And then the Holy Spirit “the Holy Ghost over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” (G.M. Hopkins). Then He cries out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I think Aitchison understood loneliness, lovelessness, and his dogs were a panacea, always present for him in a way people weren’t, or couldn’t be.
I really like that the painting has prompted so many comments.

John Hickey
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John Hickey
1 month ago

Briefly I saw the Russian flag dominating the world. . .and the Ukrainian nation on the cross and myself as the dog.

Marilee Pittman
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Marilee Pittman
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hickey

Or the Mediterranean Sea with the blood of Gaza.

Jamie Cardinal
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Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago

The martyrs of Gaza will live on! Free Palestine!

Patricia O'Brien
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Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago

I really like today’s art…not heard of Craig but I will look him up.
From this gospel, I think you can tell from Peter’s remark, that at that stage, following Christ didn’t seem too great a deal.
Maybe we feel like that. I do at times. I have to hang on to, and believe, His promises.

Jeanne M
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Jeanne M
1 month ago

Amen to that, Patricia, sometimes it just seems so….complicated, demanding. As you say, we have to hang on.

Rodney Sonia Dow
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Rodney Sonia Dow
1 month ago

I found this so moving and so powerful , leaving behind the familiar and following Jesus does make us feel exceptionally vulnerable , but also more secure in the hands of our living God . Whenever I have stepped out of my comfort zone in vulnerability , I have experienced God powerfully touching people’s lives , and strengthening my trust in Him !

Andrea Sarginson
Member
Andrea Sarginson
1 month ago

I see the colours in this painting as very significant. The red is the blood spilled and the darkness is that of endless and eternal space. The dog in front of Christ is reminiscent of the old ‘His Master’s Voice’ image, or the faithful companion lingering even after the death of his master – denoting the relationship between master and servant. The Holy spirit is signified by the bird on top of the cross. The emptiness of the picture conjures up the loneliness of death but the message on the flapping note pinned to the cross, the two birds on the cross bar and the dog carry the message that all is not lost; love, memories, hope linger on.

Jeanne M
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Jeanne M
1 month ago

Thank you, Andrea, I’ve very much enjoyed your comments.

Patricia O'Brien
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Patricia O'Brien
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Agree 👍

Mark Crain
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Mark Crain
1 month ago

Insightful observations Andrea. Thank you.

Jeanne M
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Jeanne M
1 month ago

To paraphrase Peter’s question to Jesus, “What about me?”. From tiny children, we are aware of fairness, wanting just as much as we see others getting, and being upset if we don’t get it – cue screams of indignation! We have to be taught to accept the reality of inequality, and the practice of sharing, which involves giving things up.
Jesus wants us to give up things for Him, or rather, to consider others before ourselves, in our carrying out of His instructions. He tells Peter that any renunciation will be rewarded, both in this life and the next. I find this difficult. If you renounce things, what credit is it to you if you know you’ll be compensated?
As for the picture, Craigie Aitchinson is “marmite”. Many of his figures are perceived as insignificant and unsophisticated, painted with a child-like simplicity. But his colours are magnificent, they almost vibrate with their richness. He was obsessed by the crucifixion, from the time he first saw Dalí’s painting Christ of St. John of the Cross at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow, and painted it many times over. Sometimes I think he’s saying that you can’t escape the crucifixion, it’s everywhere you look.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago

I am unsure what to make of this art work. That’s all I have to say today!

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
1 month ago

Can anyone explain the difference between atonement and the forgiveness taught by Jesus? Fr Patrick explains Jesus was crucified as atonement for our sins so there was a price to pay , but forgiveness is without a price. So why was atonement necessary? Can God not have forgiven without a human sacrifice? Is it not contrary?

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

This is a great question, and one which led to the Protestant reformation- the idea of atonement is very OT originating after the fall and ending with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Forgiveness is a very human activity, we have to forgive each other for wrongs done to us, or we should at least try. We ask God’s forgiveness because we frequently fail to forgive or grant restitution to others, as well as God. It is the price of eternal salvation and everlasting life that Jesus died for us, but it can never be guaranteed by any human agency, only by God.
I think Fr explains this in his word paradox- there is much that is paradoxical in this life, both in the physical world and in the spiritual. How dull life would be otherwise!

This is a very feeble attempt to explain after a poor night’s sleep with a busy day ahead.
Maybe others can enlighten more?

I wish you a good day Thimas.

Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
1 month ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Today is 28 May. The Feast of the Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, Martyr.

The following poem was found carved on the wall of her cell:
“For traitors on the block should die;
I am no traitor, no, not I!
My faithfulness stands fast and so,
Towards the block I shall not go!
Nor make one step, as you shall see;
Christ in Thy Mercy, save Thou me!”
————————————————————————————————————————————–
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Andy Stoker
Member
Andy Stoker
1 month ago

As ever, a striking choice of artwork and a helpful commentary – though I baulk a little at the suggestion “The more we love, the more we have to give of ourselves…. and the more we will receive in this life and the next.” – because we are called to give without expectation of reward “Save that of knowing that we do thy will.”
A version of this image is in the (UK) Methodist Art Collection, which may be of interest to some. The commentary says “This seemingly simple image is in fact a very sophisticated construct of space and colour. The unflinching identification of Christ’s pain does not wholly negate the image’s immediate playfulness. The artist referred to the crucifixion as ‘the most horrific story I have ever heard’ and so there was no need to highlight the suffering: any depiction was enough to recall all its mystery, terror and wonder. A Bedlington terrier dog was originally shown at the foot of the cross. A printer trying to help finish the work added a tiny detail to the dog’s head but, on seeing it, the artist erased the dog completely. However, its ghostly outline is still visible to the bottom left hand side of the cross.” Yes, the version in the Methodist collection just has a hint of a dog – which is plenty for me. Why is it there in the first place? (Search for Methodist Modern Art)

Corinne Shutt
Member
Corinne Shutt
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy Stoker

Is the dog a symbol of loyalty?

Monica Doyle
Member
Monica Doyle
1 month ago

So sad! Is the little creature on the left a sheep? At first I thought it was a tiger.. but?? Then it’s so lost looking and is offering Jesus his paw..,he also has a halo around him.. I reckon it’s St. John… At least Our Lord has the company of The Holy Spirit..Are we not like that little sheep lost and overwhelmed at times. Our Lord must have died on the cross and the crows sense that.. Our Lord today please give all those who seek you today a big hug and a listening ear.. So many of us need it.. Thank You!

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
1 month ago
Reply to  Monica Doyle

Morning Monica, it is a dog, specifically a Bedlington terrier, a fairly rare breed with a rather woolly, sheep-like appearance. Aitchison owned them for for many years.
Thank you for your prayer, all the best. 🙏

John Hickey
Member
John Hickey
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Maybe a wolf pretending to be a sheep?

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
1 month ago
Reply to  John Hickey

I think not! I love the raised paw…

Pk
Member
Pk
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

It also has a long tail. I like that the artist has the dog in the painting. I have heard that dogs have “unconditional love” unlike people.

Ruth Dipple
Member
Ruth Dipple
1 month ago
Reply to  Monica Doyle

I thought it was a lamb!

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