The Throne of God,
Painted by Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980),
Executed in 1968
Oils and pastels on canvas
© Christian Art
Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside
The mother and brothers of Jesus arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, 'Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.' He replied, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' And looking round at those sitting in a circle about him, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.'
Reflection on the Painting
Today's Gospel passage makes for quite uncomfortable reading at first. It seems that Jesus is somehow ignoring His family. But of course He isn't. His family is described twice in this short passage as being on the 'outside'. They are indeed physically outside the building Jesus was in. In that sense they are 'outsiders'. This implies that those sitting in a circle with Jesus are on the 'inside', the insiders. The point Jesus is making here is simply that being on the 'inside' is not just a question of location, but of relationship. That relationship is not by blood. That relationship is by following and engaging with Jesus. To be a Christian is to enter into a new family, a larger family, with stronger ties than those of blood and where everyone must be seen as a brother or a sister. The 'insider' is simply anyone who follows Christ and wants to do His will.
In the art world over the years I have often heard about certain artists being 'outsiders'. The term 'outsider' in the arts carries both a positive and a negative connotation. On the positive side it can mean that the artist carries a certain rebellious streak, an aversion to the mainstream, which then gets celebrated. But in the negative sense, being an outsider can also mean that the artist gets snubbed by the mainstream galleries, art critics and collectors. Those outsider artists are just not part of the inner circle, which at times can be elitist.
A good example of such an 'outsider' is Sister Gertrude Morgan who painted between 1940 and 1980, when Modern art was booming. She simply painted these lovely innocent, folk art canvasses, which were largely dismissed at the time. She was on the outside of the art world, yet a true 'insider' with Jesus, moving her brush for His glory…
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