Peasant Burning Weeds,
Painted by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890),
Completed in 1883,
Oil on canvas
© Van Gogh Museum and Drents Museum, Netherlands

Peasant Burning Weeds,
Painted by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890),
Completed in 1883,
Oil on canvas
© Van Gogh Museum and Drents Museum, Netherlands

Gospel of 26 July 2022

As the darnel is gathered up and burnt, so it will be at the end of time

Matthew 13:36-43

Leaving the crowds, Jesus went to the house; and his disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain the parable about the darnel in the field to us.’ He said in reply, ‘The sower of the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed is the subjects of the kingdom; the darnel, the subjects of the evil one; the enemy who sowed them, the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; the reapers are the angels. Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

Reflection on the painting

In 2019, the Van Gogh Museum and the Drents Museum jointly acquired this early painting by Vincent van Gogh, Peasant Burning Weeds, from 1883. The small yet powerful work shows a solitary figure of a man standing on a deserted plain at twilight, illuminated by a fire made of burning weeds. Van Gogh painted the work in Drenthe, Holland, where he stayed in the autumn of 1883. This is one of the few paintings from the period to have survived.

In a letter to his brother Theo (sent on 22 October 1883), Vincent wrote about this piece: ‘Here are a couple of evening effects – I’m still working on that weed burner, whom I’ve caught better than before in a painted study as far as the tone is concerned, so that it conveys more of the vastness of the plain and the gathering dusk, and the small fire with the wisp of smoke is the only point of light. I kept going out to look at it in the evenings…’ The evening effect is indeed very striking, just using brown tonalities.

Today’s gospel reading talking about the darnel being gathered up and burnt, is about the final separation of good and evil at the end of time. The parable explains that until that final separation at the end of time, good and evil will co-exist in the world and in the Church and within each one of us. But in the end, the final separation will happen. It will be done by God, not by us.

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Michael Trudeau
Michael Trudeau(@michaeltrudeau)
7 months ago

I like the point that we are not the ones gathering the weeds, just as Noah was not the one who shut the door of the ark. It makes love of neighbor a little easier.

Guy Van Holsbeke
Guy Van Holsbeke(@guy)
7 months ago

vooreerst deze opmerking : in de nederlandse tekst staat : als vertaling voor ‘like’ in de tekst : ‘ did jou like this Gospel’ , het woord ‘leuk’: Volgens mij geen goede woordkeuze: beter zou kunnen zijn : werd je aangesproken door deze Bijbel tekst en beschouwingen omtrent het kunstwerk ?

Over de Bijbel tekst : onmiddellijke rechtvaardigheid is er niet altijd,maar uiteindelijk zal die er wel komen; ik denk aan de reis van de paus naar Canada: mogen de dood van al deze kinderen niet voor niets geweest zijn !

Charles Marriott
Charles Marriott(@chazbo)
7 months ago

That is a very fine little painting. I wish I had been there when Vincent exhibited loads of paintings in his local cafe to raise money and only sold one. To Gauguin! I’d have bought the lot! Easy to say with hindsight,,,
The talk of the ‘blazing furnace’ where the wicked are cast at the end of time is not often spoken of nowadays.

Patricia O'Brien
Patricia O'Brien(@marispiper)
7 months ago

Chazbo, go to the Van Gogh Museum if you can. His earlier stuff is amazing imo!
You’re right, we tend to skip over these tough images, but they were taught us by The Lord himself! We do well to ‘listen, anyone who has ears’ and do our best (hard sometimes) to stay on the narrow path.

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