Pietà,
Painting by Andrew White (born 1968),
Painted in 2017,
Oil on canvas
© Andrew White Artist

Pietà,
Painting by Andrew White (born 1968),
Painted in 2017,
Oil on canvas
© Andrew White Artist

Gospel of 24 January 2023

Your mother and brothers and sisters are outside

Mark 3:31-35

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 or bloodline, but of relationship. That relationship is established by following and engaging with Jesus. To be a Christian is to enter into a new family, a larger family, 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.

Unfortunately many of the contemporary Christian artists are outsiders in the sense that main stream galleries or museums rarely show their work. A good example of this is one of my favourite contemporary Christian artists, Andrew White. Known to the inner circles of Christian artists, he wouldn’t necessarily be known by the wider contemporary art world. An ‘outsider’ to that world, but an ‘insider’ to the Christian Art world. The work illustrated here is a Pietà he painted in 2017, which I do think is rather breathtaking.

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Stephen Pigott
Member
Stephen Pigott(@stephen)
14 days ago

Everyone must be seen as brother or sister. Thank you Patrick, that really struck me; how easy it is not to see people as such. A much better world I would make if I did see everyone that way.

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra(@bogie29)
14 days ago

A beautiful image of the Pietà today. Although no scars can be seen on the body of Christ, I do notice two subtle streaks of blood in the palm of His hand which makes the painting post mortem. The artist has a few different versions of this illustration using different media on his website.

Last edited 14 days ago by Andy Bocanegra
Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
14 days ago

Yes, a very tender image – I like so much about it. Odd that Caravaggio was ignored for centuries but now lauded (rightfully) and as we see, hugely influential. I can’t think anyone before him used the technique (chiaroscuro)
Today’s reading – yes, Christ includes us as belonging to him – as much as his own family. Incidentally, if Jesus did have siblings, it matters not a jot to me.

Joseph Boscia
Member
Joseph Boscia(@joe)
14 days ago

This posts’ while lovely and expressive leaves me intrigued as to what seems to be excluded. Why are there no scars on the Christs body or hands? Elegant hands of Mary embracing the body, although we assume death, the veins and skeletal structure almost implies sleep, resting or a state of still at peace in his mother’s arms.

marleen de vlieghere
Member
marleen de vlieghere(@marleen)
14 days ago

What a good ‘outsider’ in any way. I like the hands!

Anthony
Member
Anthony(@anthony)
14 days ago

Thank you Deacon Patrick for those words. Life is full of ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ circles.
I believe people are artists by there nature. About 30 years ago I painted a risen christ for Easter display in our church. One lady complimented me, then told me about her relative; “but
he’s a proper artist”.
The Lord does not want outsiders. He wants everyone in his kingdom.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
14 days ago

Some Pieta’s leave me cold, others are so intimate they feel like an intrusion. This is one of the intimate ones,. Interesting that that we laud the old masters whose paintings were often, sometimes exclusively, religious, yet today religious subjects are not seen in the same way. The old painters were not necessarily that religious either, but ambitious, so they knew how to ‘flatter’ their patrons. It isn’t for us to judge these things. We take what we take from them. These days we have to look, especially in the abstract, for the soul of the artist and how it speaks to us. It can be more of a challenge, I agree , but also a call to engagement.
As for the reading it also speaks of intimacy. How do we feel when Jesus calls us His brothers and sisters? I want to step away from it sometimes too…

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
14 days ago

The Pieta is a wonderfully emotional way of portraying grief. The grief of Our Lady at the death of her beloved son although I always think that it must have been tinged with joy at the knowledge that He had fulfilled His earthly mission so fully. His teachings are there for all of us to soak up.
Michaelangelo’s Pieta in St Peter’s Basilica has moved people to tears on many occasions.

Anthony
Member
Anthony(@anthony)
14 days ago

Yes, grief and joy. I feel sad for the bereaved, but happy for the one who has gone to the Lord.

Adriana
Member
Adriana(@art55)
14 days ago

Very true Charlie, that’s the wonder of arts, is an artistic way to make people feel emotions
Double artwork today, thanks!!!

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