The Lighthouse at Honfleur,
Painting by Georges Seurat (1859-1891),
Painted in 1886,
Oil on canvas
© National Gallery of Art, Washington
Jesus went out to the shore of the lake
Jesus went out to the shore of the lake; and all the people came to him, and he taught them. As he was walking on he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus, sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
When Jesus was at dinner in his house, a number of tax collectors and sinners were also sitting at the table with Jesus and his disciples; for there were many of them among his followers. When the scribes of the Pharisee party saw him eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard this he said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
Reflection on the painting
In our Gospel reading today we hear how Jesus walks to the shore of the lake and he asks us to shine our light at the shores. We are called not just to live our faith, but to also actively witness our faith. We have to be a lighthouse: having strong foundations, weathering any storm, and also shine our light that can be seen from afar to guide people.
Our painting from 1886 is by Georges Seurat. Seurat invented a technique called pointillism. He juxtaposed minute touches of unmixed pigments in hues corresponding to the perceived colour. Up close the colours don’t make sense, but seen from a distance, they blend to the eye of the viewer. For example in our painting the brickwork of the building is made from pure red and blue dots. From afar the viewer sees these as brown brickwork. It was a slow, meticulous technique, far less random than impressionism. It also gives these pointillist paintings a freshness and crispness that few other paintings have.
To think of our Christian faith as a lighthouse is a beautiful image, as we navigate the seas of our own lives. We are also called to be a guiding lights to others… in order for us all to reach the Eternal Harbour…
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