Christ and the Young Child,
Painted by Carl Bloch  (1834–1890),
Painted in 1873,
Oil on canvas
© Skt. Nikolai Kirke, Holbæk, Denmark

Christ and the Young Child,
Painted by Carl Bloch  (1834–1890),
Painted in 1873,
Oil on canvas
© Skt. Nikolai Kirke, Holbæk, Denmark

Gospel of 21 May 2024

Anyone who welcomes little children in my name, welcomes me

Mark 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples made their way through Galilee; and he did not want anyone to know, because he was instructing his disciples; he was telling them, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again.’ But they did not understand what he said and were afraid to ask him.

They came to Capernaum, and when he was in the house he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ They said nothing because they had been arguing which of them was the greatest. So he sat down, called the Twelve to him and said, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.’ He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’

Reflection on the painting

In matters of faith, healthy and respectful argumentation can lead us closer to truth and even Truth with a capital T. The realm of faith is one of mystery, providing ample space for lively exchanges that can deepen our understanding. However, arguments driven by self-promotion do not serve our faith well. In today's gospel reading, the disciples engaged in such an argument, vying for status and identity within God's kingdom. Jesus responded not only with words but also with action, using a child as a living example.

Placing the child before them, Jesus emphasised that greatness in the kingdom is not measured by status but by one's capacity for love and compassion, particularly towards the weakest and most vulnerable. In the culture of that time, children occupied a lowly position in society, symbolising powerlessness. Jesus's message challenges us to prioritise care for those often overlooked or marginalised, reminding us that true greatness lies in humble service and love for others.

Carl Bloch's painting "Christ and the Young Child," completed in 1873, depicts Jesus holding young boy who is holding a palm branch. The palm branch is a symbol associated with victory, triumph (the Ancient Greek athletes were offered palm wreaths after a victory; or think of Palm Sunday and the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem). But palms are also associated with martyrdom in Christian iconography: Christian triumph over death. The child holding a palm branch therefore conveys great poignancy. In the context of our Gospel reading, it represents the innocence and spiritual victory of a child-like purity. The child's gesture of holding the palm branch in the presence of Jesus is therefore a display of homage, acknowledging Jesus as the ultimate source of victory and salvation. Bloch's masterful use of light and colour against a dark ground adds to the emotional depth of the scene.

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Jan-Ko Hab-Jan
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Jan-Ko Hab-Jan
22 days ago
Jan-Ko Hab-Jan
Member
Jan-Ko Hab-Jan
22 days ago

…(…)…vom Hl. Johannes Klimakos (um 575-um 650)
Mönch auf dem Sinai

Die Heilige Treppe, 24. Stufe (Coll. SO n° 24, trad. P. Deseille, éd. Bellefontaine, 1978; p. 213-214; ins Dt. übers. © evangelizo)
Nähern wir uns ihm in aller Einfachheit!
Die Einfachheit ist eine Haltung der Seele, die jede List ausschließt und sie immun macht gegen Böswilligkeit. Die Abwesenheit von Arglist ist ein freudiger Zustand der Seele, frei von allen Hintergedanken. Das erste Vorrecht der Kindheit ist eine Einfachheit, die frei ist von jeder List; solange Adam sich diese Einfachheit bewahrte, sah er nicht die Nacktheit seiner Seele und die Unziemlichkeit seines Fleisches.
Schön und glückselig ist die Einfachheit, die manche von Natur aus besitzen, aber sie ist weniger schön als jene Einfachheit, die durch Mühsal und Schweiß auf einen schlechten Stamm aufgepropft werden konnte. Die erste ist vor vielen Listen und Leidenschaften sicher; die zweite aber verschafft eine sehr tiefe Demut und äußerste Sanftmut. Die erste verdient kaum eine Belohnung; die zweite aber eine unendliche Belohnung.
Wir alle, die wir den Herrn an uns ziehen wollen, wollen uns ihm nähern wie die Jünger ihrem Meister, in aller Einfachheit, ohne Heuchelei, Bosheit, List oder Kompliziertheit. Denn er selbst ist einfach und unkompliziert, und er will, dass die Seelen, die sich ihm nähern, einfach und unschuldig sind. Denn ihr werdet die Einfachheit nie getrennt von der Demut finden. 🙏

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
23 days ago

Not keen on the painting today… Never mind, the message is a lovely one and us all about unquestioning trust I think.
I wonder which of the disciples came out on top there 🤔
We’re leaving the Corias monastery/parador today. I have felt a great sadness that a place so vast as this, with a huge community of brothers, should be reduced to two. I pray for the brother who lived in our room/cell. Off to Gijon now, via Oviedo.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
23 days ago

Buen viaje, Patricia. Hay que ver La Santa Iglesia Basílica Catedral Metropolitana de San Salvador de Oviedo!! Hope the weather has improved?

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
22 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Muchas gracias Noelle ☺️ Oviedo is buzzing because it is the ancient Feast of Tuesday Bread – we were each given a ‘roll’ in the Cathedral to commemorate the Tuesday after Pentecost when a community of brothers distributed bread to the poor. Now it’s a bit of a knees-up – though there were also traditionally dressed musicians and dancers. Lovely….Raining though.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
22 days ago

That sounds wonderful! – except for the rain…. still sunny here, forecast wrong, so far. Thank you for describing it for us. 😊

Chazbo M
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Chazbo M
22 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

It was ok this morning but has been tipping down all afternoon!

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
22 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Hombre – ¡no me dices! Todavía no hemos visto ningun gota….

Silvia Moiron
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Silvia Moiron
23 days ago

San Juan, tal vez…

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
22 days ago

Hummmmm …. ” The child looks confused”, and Zelie says, ” a little bit sad”.

Father Will is visiting our family as he travels back to Canada, and he has invited us to share our thoughts on today’s artwork.

Patricia, we appreciate your sadness at the monastery. We’ve reflected: is this child (girl or boy) the Christ child himself, looking ahead to Jerusalem? Is this one of the disciples, confused as well? Is it Christ himself, maybe even looking ahead with Sadness at a huge monastery reduced to two? Regardless, we see that the celebrated child, elevated by Christ, sees many dimensions in the world around him.

“…yes”, my name is Sam, I thought the expressions on Jesus face and the chid’s face were the similar, “…anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

“…but, I’m actually very happy because I know Jesus is standing right beside me” – Zelie

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
22 days ago
Reply to  Will Howard

Hello Zellie – maybe Father Will’s neice? Good to hear he’s relaxing with his family.
We’re going to spend a week up in Norfolk to get to know our grand-daughter who we have hardly seen since she was born in August.

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
22 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

GREAT Chazbo …. Oh the grandparent thing: I hear it’s a REAL ‘preoccupation’ – in the best sense of the word!
Nope… Zelie is the youngest daughter of my friends in Estes Park Co. – an old parish of mine.
She says hi

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
23 days ago

Carl Bloch was famed in his day for his many paintings of Biblical scenes, his classical realism, & almost photographic accuracy. He lived in Italy for several years, and was fond of including pillars in many of his works, this one is particularly well painted.
This is a “cool”, still, painting, but many are passionate and colourful. However, it’s wonderfully rendered, from the pure beauty of Jesus, to the equally beautiful blonde child, surely based on one of Bloch’s own eight children. The expression on his face is so true to life, that slightly squirming doubtfulness, when the child is not at ease with a situation – realism has triumphed over idealism! I love the tension that brings.
When Jesus used a little child as an illustration of ‘whoever welcomes a little child welcomes me’, He seems to have departed somewhat from the theme of ‘whoever would be greatest must be servant of all’. But has He? Looking after children was not man’s work, being messy, time-consuming and trying of patience – therefore a certain humility was needed, to look after the little people/things of life. Further, Jesus seems often to qualify the acceptance of Himself by referring on to His Father. I’ve quite often heard men, who don’t always want to admit to praying, say “I’d better ask the boss”, and then I’m reminded of Jesus’ words!! So there are several stages in this reading….
Busy day ahead, it’s the weekly shop, and the fortnightly housegroup tonight, plus we’re expecting thunderstorms.

Janey M
Member
Janey M
23 days ago

The image of Christ is a familiar representation, so familiar I tend to overlook Him. In this picture that is acceptable because the main focus is the child. Children can be so enigmatic, it is hard to read the expression on his face. But it is a lovely picture of Jesus giving prominence to a person of no importance.

What has always struck me from this Bible passage is that they were in a home at Capernaum. Bearing in mind that Jesus made his home there, was it His house. If so……there were children running and playing around, their mothers would have been there also, plus other family members and friends. Open house – all welcome.

Noelle Clemens
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Noelle Clemens
23 days ago
Reply to  Janey M

Nice point, Janey. It’s good to imagine Jesus among families.

Pk
Member
Pk
22 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

I can’t figure out how to give a thumbs up🧐 Like this comment Janey.

Noelle Clemens
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Noelle Clemens
22 days ago
Reply to  Pk

👍

Guy Van Holsbeke
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Guy Van Holsbeke
23 days ago

I would prefer to see a Christ coming at the same level as the child. Giving a palm to the child is somewhat ambigious because it can relate to martyrdom and not to pleasant youth .

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
23 days ago

Morning Guy. I think the child’s expression is ambiguous, as if he’s thinking “what’s this all about?”

Pk
Member
Pk
22 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Good morning Noelle, I agree with you, I am to have my weekly Grandma day with my 3 year old grandson. The questions he asks and his energy/ meltdowns keeps me on my toes all day!

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
22 days ago
Reply to  Pk

Wishing you strength and patience, Pk….

Tim Burton
Member
Tim Burton
23 days ago

Hmm … a very striking picture. Sadly, I find it hard to dissociate from everything that has occurred subsequent to its painting, both in our wider society and in the church.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
23 days ago
Reply to  Tim Burton

That is the shame of our age, Tim, but it was just as prevalent then, only unknown and unadmitted in certain sections of society.

Last edited 23 days ago by Noelle Clemens
Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Tim Burton

Oh dear! Surely that’s not the point?

Monica Doyle
Member
Monica Doyle
23 days ago

Funny that… I find Jesus’ depiction is a bit too severe for me this morning but the light in the picture is wonderful. I love where Mark tells us that Our Lord picked up the little child and held him… God alone knows what that would feel like! A beautiful image and one which I wish for all of us to experience this day🙏

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago

What a beautiful painting! Some would say that Jesus and the boy look like Danes but the painting came about in a cultural milieu where people weren’t so aware of other races. This picture of Christ and the boy, both beautiful Nordic types, was painted by a Dane for Danes. Painting Jesus as African would be valid for African audiences as Jesus came into the world as human for the whole of humanity.

Anyway it’s a very good illustration for today’s Bible passage.

May this message as told in the gospel of Mark resonate with all today. I’m off to argue with the council about my parking permit! 😡

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
23 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Good luck, Chazbo!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Got my permit! Took an hour of sitting about and the charged me a lot of money. £205 for mine and £305 for my wife’s. Seems an awful lot….

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
22 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

WHAT! That seems extortionate – my husband nearly had a conniption when I told him! No more gadding about for a week!

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