Photo taken of a preview exhibition at Christie's London, showing the Portrait of a commander, three-quarter-length, being dressed for battle,
Painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640),
Painted around 1612-1614,
Oil on panel
© Alamy / Christie’s London, 6 July 2010, lot 16, sold £9 million
Your light must shine in the sight of men
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes tasteless, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled underfoot by men.
‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.’
Reflection on the gallery display
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel reading that ‘Your light must shine in the sight of men’. But the use of the metaphor of light is not just an abstract notion. Jesus goes on to linking it straight to the doing of good works. When people see good works being done (especially now during Lent), it may inspire them to want to learn more about what drove that person to do them--what inspired him, what pushed her to make such a sacrifice, etc….
Light is important. Also in art. Actually, especially in art. There are accounts of Jusepe de Ribera and Caravaggio asking their landlords if they could create a window in their studios to let more light in. Artists simply can’t paint without good light. Light is not important only for the creation of an artwork, but also for us to appreciate the completed work of art. While the optimal light to appreciate a painting is daylight, many museums or auction houses now experiment with creating drama using artificial light. Think of darkened rooms with spotlights just illuminating the paintings. It certainly creates drama. Our photo was taken at a preview of the Old master painting sale at Christie’s London, showing the dramatic light on a painting by Rubens which came to auction and sold for £9 million.
We need light to do good works for the Lord, but we also need the light to see all that the others around us are doing, too. Light exposes, light highlights, light reveals, light illuminates the path we have ahead of us…
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