Courage, Anxiety and Despair: Watching the Battle,
Painting by James Sant (1820–1916),
Painted circa 1850,
Oil on canvas
© Christie’s London, 31 May 2012, lot 30, sold £61,250

Courage, Anxiety and Despair: Watching the Battle,
Painting by James Sant (1820–1916),
Painted circa 1850,
Oil on canvas
© Christie’s London, 31 May 2012, lot 30, sold £61,250

Gospel of 8 July 2022

The Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you

Matthew 10:16-23

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.

‘Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. ‘Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved. If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. I tell you solemnly, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.’

Reflection on the painting

Today’s gospel reading describes the depth of opposition that the followers of Jesus could expect to face once they started their mission of spreading the Good News. The same is true today. Whist in the West we may not face deadly persecutions (unlike in other parts of the world), there are nonetheless deep tensions between the Christian values of the Gospel and the values of the secular culture that surrounds us, in which we try to live out our Christian values. The more secularised our surrounding culture gets, the more courageous we need to be.

So our reading today is all about having Christian courage and kindling a fire deep inside us to bravely continue to spread the Good News. Our painting by James Sant shows the figures of Courage, Anxiety and Despair watching a battle. Courage, depicted at the front holding a dagger, is ready to get involved in the battle. She is focused, single minded and keeping Despair at bay with her left hand. Anxiety is fearful, and her left hand is tensely grasping her own neck. Despair is dressed in lavish clothes and turning her gaze away from the battle. She has already given up.

 

At his death in 1916, at the age of ninety-six, Sant was the longest living member of the Royal Academy since the institution's foundation in 1768, having exhibited well over two hundred pictures during a period of seventy-six years. His depiction of Courage in our painting is striking. Christian courage is the willingness to say and do the right thing, regardless of the earthly cost. And Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit is there by our side to help us say and do those right things, for 'the Spirit of the Father will be speaking in you'.

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miguel vargas
Member
miguel vargas(@miguel)
1 month ago

I believe anyone of us, could be anyone of these, at any given time.

Guy Van Holsbeke
Member
Guy Van Holsbeke(@guy)
1 month ago

not only christians must be courageous also people ‘fighting’ for our environment, human rights, against poverty, discrimination, egoism:…There also we see : courage, anxiety and despair…

Iris
Member
Iris(@molly)
1 month ago

I like the three images Courage, Anxiety and Despair. not seen this painting before.

Oi Lian Kon
Member
Oi Lian Kon(@kairos712)
1 month ago

Thank you for making the point about secular culture. Militant secularism paraded as the culture of the intelligentsia is perhaps a more dangerous form of persecution because it mocks faith in God as a dangerous delusion. And silences us. But the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7a)

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
1 month ago
Reply to  Oi Lian Kon

Agreed. Secularism is morphing slowly at present into violence. In my life (born 1950) I have seen church life still quite strong, changing into agnosticism (with still some good feeling towards believers), changing into indifference, ignorance and now, as I say quite a lot of aggression developing. We are going to have to erect physical barriers before too long….

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