The Last Day of Pompeii,
Painted by Alexander Bryullov (1799-1852),
Painted in 1830,
Oil on canvas
© State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Last Day of Pompeii,
Painted by Alexander Bryullov (1799-1852),
Painted in 1830,
Oil on canvas
© State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Gospel of 14 June 2023

Till heaven and earth disappear

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.’

Reflection on the painting

In today's Gospel reading Jesus says: 'I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved.' He thus refers to the end of time. Until that time comes, all the laws and teachings God gave us, remain. Our painting illustrates what the end of time could look like. More specifically, the painting depicts the Last Day of Pompeii. It is a very large (456 × 651 cm) history painting by Russian artist, Karl Bryullov, produced in 1830, depicting the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Pompeii was under active excavation in the early 19th century, and after the artist visited the site, he gave this magnificent rendering of what it might have been like on the last day of Pompeii.

Bryullov has filled the canvas with authentic detail from Pompeii that he had seen at the site and in the museum at Naples, such as the artefacts carried by the figures and the realistically rendered paving and kerb stones. Statues toppling from their pedestals bring additional drama, demonstrating the sublime power of nature over man. What is interesting is that most figures depicted preserve their dignity in the face of death. In the right corner of the painting there is a young man helping his mother to get up and continue their escape. This represents Pliny, an actual survivor, who managed to escape Pompeii in time and shared his experience about the tragic night.

Looking at this painting we can feel the ground shaking. The dark skies, lit by fire and lava, are descending on humanity. Nature is in charge. Hard to imagine what the end of time would be like, but it may be not too far off this scene. As we wait, knowing that God is orchestrating all of human history towards its glorious end, we are asked by Jesus to remain faithful to the laws and the teachings he gave us.

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Rya Lucas
Member
Rya Lucas
8 months ago

These are a lot of various comments. SFG, I wish you health and happiness with all you’ll do in your ‘no more working’ years. Chazbo, I am sorry that you did not enjoy your career; I wish you a blessed future with God, classical music (which I love) and art (and no hot weather when you have to mow the lawn). BTW, how is your dog?
Mark, you may still love Russia; the war is Putin’s war. Sometimes I ask God to give him a heart attack or a stroke (and at the same time I feel quilty!) Let us pray for all the fallen soldiers on both sides. Patricia and Marleen, I love you both; God bless you. Maria Contreras, I’m sorry that I don’t speak Spanish. I hope you understand that I wish you the blessing of our Lord. And last but not least: Patrick… I pray for you. In ten days you will be ordained as a priest. God is with you these last days. We (the CA-family) pray for you and it makes us happy to see you as a priest in a couple of days. God bless you is my wish from the bottom of my heart.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Rya Lucas

Yes we must pray for Russia and love our enemy Putin. That’s a tough one, but God asks nothing less.

Maria Contreras
Member
Maria Contreras
8 months ago

Definitivamente, es un cuadro impresionante. El evangelio invita a reflexionar sobre los mandamientos. Dios nos da un camino para llevar una vida acorde a su voluntad. Que el Espiritu Santo nos ilumine para ser sal y luz del mundo y estemos apegados a sus mandamientos.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
8 months ago

What an incredible painting! Thank you Patrick.
It offers me an important reminder of the great Russian culture and people. The horror that Vladimir Putin and his ilk are inflicting on humanity taints my feelings towards Russia. It will take generations to forget, and perhaps never. I pray for peace and that God will intervene to end this evil in our midst.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

Amen!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
8 months ago

If some of the predictions about man’s use of artificial intelligence are to be believed, I can imagine the Almighty saying “I think it’s about time….”

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago

Such a dramatic events and a dramatic painting! Yesterday was also a last day for me though thankfully not nearly so dramatic. It was my last working day after fifty years of serving my community. This morning I feel so grateful to have been of some use in my life and that the Lord will keep me useful still in ways I have no doubt he will reveal to me. I also plan to visit some galleries and stare at paintings!
Your commentary is again so reassuring and comforting, Patrick. We have nothing to fear. God bless you all today.

marleen de vlieghere
Member
marleen de vlieghere
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

SFG, noble as you are, you will allways be ‘of some use’. If only here on CA. I like your comments every day!!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

A big day SFG! What was your occupation for 50 years? If you don’t mind my asking…

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Let’s just say I worked in a large NHS teaching hospital for twenty years, then in education for another twenty. I also started working at 16 in a supermarket and then front of house in a theatre, as well as taking a few years off to raise my children! God has been good to me- it has been a privilege to have used my skills to help others.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

That’s a pretty good CV. My career has been one of tedium. I gained no satisfaction from it but merely undertook it to provide food and a roof for my family…The only things that interest me are God, classical music and art. Which is plenty but I was sad when I met people who really enjoyed their work.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I am probably wearing my rose-tinted glasses. There were times it was unrewarding and tedious slog. I thought the grass was greener so often, but it is just a different kind of grass. To support our families is the only motivation for work for most of us- thank goodness we have art and music and God Almighty.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Thank you for sharing this SFG. I can assure you that the Lord is keeping you useful; you help me and teach me daily.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

that’s lovely Mark- we are all here to help each other.

marleen de vlieghere
Member
marleen de vlieghere
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

beautiful curriculum!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago

Thank you- a busy life is a blessing even though you don’t think so at the time!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago

Wow! Talk about drama! What a splendid painting. I have made it my desktop this morning. These daily artworks make turning on my computer so much more fun.
Today I have to fulfill all the tasks that have been allocated to me while my wife has been resting in the country!! The first and worst one is mowing the lawn which I had better do before the heat gets up.
Mark; I have prayed for you and hope for better things to come for you and your wife….

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Happy mowing Chazbo! I no longer have a large garden so no more grass cutting for me. Over the road is the village green which I call my front garden, and luckily the council cut that!

Yes, Mark is still in my thoughts and prayers too- hope he’s ok. Glad your wife is resting too.

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

SFG, you are God’s angel messenger. Thank you.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Mark Crain

Only His work matters, Mark. I try my best but am always falling…

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Charles, my brother, through your love and the glorious gift of this community, I vow never to allow anything or any unholy spirit to steal the hope and joy that comes from the Holy Spirit inside me. Thank you.

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