Tree Roots,
Painted by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890),
Painted in 1890
Oil on canvas
© Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) / Wikimedia
Tree Roots,
Painted by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890),
Painted in 1890
Oil on canvas
© Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) / Wikimedia
Gospel of 13 July 2022

I bless you, Father, for revealing these things to mere children

Matthew 11:25-27

Jesus exclaimed, ‘I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’

Reflection on the painting

A virtue that is often overlooked in our fast-paced society is ‘discernment’. We have questions and, rather than spending time looking for serious answers, we tend to settle for superficial answers. Especially for the more important life decisions, it is important to get to the root of the question. This can only be done by spending time in reflection and prayer.

Particularly in matters of faith, we will find answers only when we spend quality time in reflection and contemplation.  And when we do this, Jesus is prompting us in today’s reading to be like ‘little children’ when we look for answers. Just as a child is dependent on its parents, we should listen as well to what our Father has to say, trust in what he wants us to do, and accept difficult tasks, knowing that all he does is out of love for us. Only then will we be able to discern properly and get to the root of the question that we asked him in the first place.

Going to the root of things is also where we find stability. It is in the roots that things are firmly established. The root supports the tree. Painted in 1890, our canvas by Vincent van Gogh depicts such tree roots, firmly established in the soil. This painting is considered by some to be Vincent’s last painting before his death, late in July 1890. He had left an asylum a few weeks before and painted  only  a few canvasses thereafter. As viewers we can identify tree roots and trunks, but it is hard to identify the subject as a whole. When looking at painting, one needs to spend time as well looking up close, discerning what the artist is trying to convey. Time and discernment are also needed when looking at art…

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Michael Trudeau
Member
Michael Trudeau(@michaeltrudeau)
4 months ago

I have found over the years that a really effective way of coming to know our Lord better through Scripture lies in preparing Sunday School lessons for children. There’s a blessing in serving the youngest among us.
Today’s painting by Van Gogh really serves today’s lesson. Thank you, Patrick.

miguel vargas
Member
miguel vargas(@miguel)
4 months ago

My mind can’t help but go to Mathew 13 when considering roots. Even the best planted seeds (answers to questions of faith) will fail to be firmly established in the soil (mind) if the time is not sufficient to carefully discern.

Sim D'Hertefelt
Member
Sim D'Hertefelt(@sim)
4 months ago

Beautiful reflection and surprising art choice. Thank you!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
4 months ago

Yes, and children simply accept the words of the one who’s in charge. The Lord himself!
The Van Gogh Museum is stunning. I wouldn’t call myself even a fan, but to see his paintings, chronologically alongside his story, you cannot help but be moved.

Graham Barsby
Member
Graham Barsby(@barsbee)
4 months ago

I also think that children are the roots of the Church in that they will grow and flourish into adulthood.

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