Red grouse in flight,
Painting by Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935),
Painted in 1906,
pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of bodycolour and touches of gum arabic, on paper
© Christie’s London, 15 December 2010, lot 131, sold £46,850

Red grouse in flight,
Painting by Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935),
Painted in 1906,
pencil and watercolour heightened with touches of bodycolour and touches of gum arabic, on paper
© Christie’s London, 15 December 2010, lot 131, sold £46,850

Gospel of 12 July 2022

Did you want to be exalted as high as heaven?

Matthew 11:20-24

Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent.

‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard on Judgement day with Tyre and Sidon as with you. And as for you, Capernaum, did you want to be exalted as high as heaven? You shall be thrown down to hell. For if the miracles done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have been standing yet. And still, I tell you that it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom on Judgement day as with you.’

Reflection on the watercolour

In today’s reading we can sense how frustrated Jesus must have got at times during his ministry! People saw him perform miracles up close and still didn’t believe!… To some of the onlookers of these miracles, Jesus’ actions were maybe looked upon as ‘oh yes, that made for an interesting watch’, but few were ‘going deeper’. They were not picking up the clues to what Christ was referring to and pointing to, or they didn’t even fully realise the true origin of his powers. No wonder Jesus probably got frustrated at times… we would be the same… and Jesus having these feelings shows us that he was truly human, like us.

The harsh language Jesus uses in our Gospel reading of today,  condemning some of the towns and their societies, demonstrates that whilst God never tires of revealing his power and showing mercy to us, we as a society remain free to accept his message or not.

What can be more symbolic of freedom than free-flying birds over the Scottish highlands? Our watercolour by Archibald Thorburn depicts grouse in flight. Thorburn had a lifelong passion for the Highlands, particularly when they were decked out in their autumn glory, as conveyed in our watercolour. A flying bird can take to the skies whenever necessary, to escape and be free. Birds roam the earth and fly in the skies. But our human freedom goes way beyond this. We may not be able to fly, but can choose freely to follow Christ. This freedom is a far greater gift. It is much more than just mere personal independence! It actually is choosing dependence: dependence on Christ.

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Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
1 month ago

There’s no way that I would pay £46,000 for a quite ordinary watercolour like that!!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
1 month ago

🤣

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

It would be helpful to know what about Capernaum’s pride elicited Jesus’ words. Exodus 34:6-7 and several other places in the Old Testament assure us that God is slow to anger, merciful and abounds in steadfast love – but does not speak of His infinite patience.

Charles Marriott
Member
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
1 month ago

Jesus sounds quite Old Testament sometimes.

Frances Riches
Member
Frances Riches(@frances-riches)
1 month ago

Choosing dependence on Christ is freedom. There are no boundaries in his great laws of loving Him and our neighbour

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