Le Bassin aux Nymphéas,
Painting by Claude Monet (1840-1926),
Painted in 1917-19,
100 by 200 cm
Oil on canvas
© Sotheby’s Paris

Le Bassin aux Nymphéas,
Painting by Claude Monet (1840-1926),
Painted in 1917-19,
100 by 200 cm
Oil on canvas
© Sotheby’s Paris

Gospel of 4 July 2021

And they would not accept Him

Mark 6:1-6

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, 'Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?' And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, 'A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house'; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Reflection on the Painting

In today's gospel Jesus prepares His disciples for potential rejection. Rejection is part of our lives. There are so many ways we can feel rejected: not getting the job we want; losing friends over something trivial; falling out with colleagues; not being invited somewhere, etc… We have probably all had moments of rejection leading to some form of suffering. In today's reading we see how Jesus is being rejected in His own country, by His own people. And therein lies the beauty of our reading: He was fully human, so He experienced exactly the same rejection as we sometimes do. He was rejected  in His hometown as we read in today's reading; He was rejected by Judas; He was rejected by Peter when he lied three times; He felt rejected by His very Father, when He cried out on the cross 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'… Jesus understands our pain in a very tangible and real way... therefore we can share our own burdens of rejection with Him.

Artists over the years have also often felt rejected. Pablo Picasso, Cezanne, Van Gogh, Andy Warhol initially got rejected too… Even whole movements were initially rejected, an example being the Impressionist movement. The very term "Impressionism" arose from sarcastic criticism of a new style of painting, one in which artists were just putting 'impressions' on a canvas, rather than actually being able to paint. Claude Monet, at the forefront of the movement, struggled for a long time with the feeling of rejection until later in his career, when he had more acceptance and ultimately success. For the first 20 years of his career, Monet struggled to find buyers for his paintings. But rejection for him served a good purpose: he became stronger, more focussed and more meaningful in what he painted. Rejection made him grow. 

Our painting by Claude Monet sold just over a month ago for $70 million. Hardly rejection. This series of waterlilies is important in art history as with these paintings Monet moved the art of painting from Impressionism into the realm of abstraction and modern painting. Look how abstract the flowers and leaves are already. 

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