The Last Judgement,
Executed by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337),
Fresco painting,
Executed in 1305,
© Cappella Scrovegni, Padua, Italy

The Last Judgement,
Executed by Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337),
Fresco painting,
Executed in 1305,
© Cappella Scrovegni, Padua, Italy

Gospel of 1 August 2023

The harvest is the end of the world

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 fresco

The Last Judgment is one of Giotto’s masterpieces. Painted in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, we firstly see the early 14th century windows which represent the Holy Trinity, flanked on either side by angels rolling out of the sky, as in today’s reading ‘the Son of Man will send his angels’. This is a beautiful integration of the architectural windows into the painterly composition.

Directly underneath is Christ, surrounded by light. He is majestic, but not terrifying, yet there to judge. With his opened right hand, he saves those who will be blessed; with his left hand, by contrast, he indicates the damned souls to throw them into the blazing furnace, as in the Gospel of today.

Yes, all of us will indeed be judged at the end of this life. And where we will end up will be based upon our deeds in this current life and our faith in Christ. Our eternal destiny therefore gets determined here on earth. This makes uncomfortable reading and not easy to digest, but Christ is clear on the issue: if we receive him as our saviour, we will not be condemned; if we reject him as the Son of God, we will be condemned. The current fresco depicts this with the same clarity: the people on the left in Heaven; the condemned on the right in Hell.

We will be judged for how we responded in this life to God and his Word. In a way, it is similar to living up to the day we sit our final exam: we can be prepared or unprepared for it. But those pupils who have been diligent and know what their teacher requires and have worked hard to put it into practice will approach that day maybe with a certain confidence, although without certainty of what the final outcome will be. Even thinking that we may be well prepared may not be guarantee a good exam. Who knows? All we can do is be as well prepared as we can and pray, trusting in God's mercy.

As a side note, Dante, the great Renaissance poet and friend of Giotto, was inspired by this depiction of Hell when he wrote his Inferno.

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Thimas@
Member
Thimas@(@thimas)
6 months ago

I made some comments about this but I was cancelled. There should be permission for scrutiny not just praise. My point was that Jesus in his ministry preached forgiveness and love. Weeping and gnashing of teeth in the fires of hell punishment is contradiction to the sermon of the mount for example. The gospels have many contradictions like this.

Estrellita Picart
Member
Estrellita Picart(@estrellita-picart)
6 months ago

Let’s be always prepared!

Liliana Lazzaro
Member
Liliana Lazzaro(@11169)
6 months ago

El Señor es siempre misericordioso, pero nos da la libertad de elegir , el cielo o el infierno.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens(@jeanne)
6 months ago

Have been out all day from early and have got back to wonderful comments, and dare I say it, revelations. The fresco is just fantastic, in “real life” it must be glorious. I’ve been trying to imagine seeing it with “medieval” eyes:
stunned by its physical beauty, and by the stark choices offered. – you either go right, or left. Right is full of light, on the left, darkness. Jesus points with his right hand, but the left hand is open. If turned towards a person it indicates rejection, “go away”, an insult in some parts of the world, including the Middle East. (Also, the Latin for left, sinister, shows that left has often been thought of as bad.) At the top, two figures are scrolling back the heavens, it seems. The sun and the moon are represented. A broad path, seemingly of blood, leads to destruction, and many people are tumbling down it. Would it have filled the onlookers with dread, would they have craved to be on Jesus’ right? Now, when scepticism is rife, Giotto, speaking to us from over 800 years ago, puts it simply and clearly – there are consequences! We are sinners, but Jesus appreciates our weakness: “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and not denied my name.” – his words to the church at Philadelphia. Ainsi soit…..

Suzan McCann
Member
Suzan McCann(@morningsunhunaol-com)
6 months ago

While a disturbing representation of judgement day, my question is…why would anyone “choose” hell & damnation .

Maria Contreras
Member
Maria Contreras(@gera)
6 months ago
Reply to  Suzan McCann

Alguien elige el infierno cuando niega a Dios.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M(@chazbo)
6 months ago
Reply to  Suzan McCann

Well, Suzan, people do chose the wrong path. You see it all the time in our society. “I’m not interested in the common good, I’m only interested in my good”.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace(@spaceforgrace)
6 months ago
Reply to  Suzan McCann

See some of the comments below- so many reasons to reject the gospel. They just don’t believe in a merciful, loving God.

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