Beautiful Love Demelza Painting with Beautiful Butterflies,
Painted by Damien Hirst (Born 1965),
Butterflies and household gloss on canvas,
Executed in 2008,
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

Beautiful Love Demelza Painting with Beautiful Butterflies,
Painted by Damien Hirst (Born 1965),
Butterflies and household gloss on canvas,
Executed in 2008,
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

Gospel of 16 February 2020

Your virtue should go deeper than that of the Scribes

Matthew 5:20-22,27-28,33-34,37

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I tell you, if your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.

‘You have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not kill; and if anyone does kill he must answer for it before the court. But I say this to you: anyone who is angry with his brother will answer for it before the court.

‘You have learnt how it was said: You must not commit adultery. But I say this to you: if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

‘Again, you have learnt how it was said to our ancestors: You must not break your oath, but must fulfil your oaths to the Lord. But I say this to you: do not swear at all. All you need say is “Yes” if you mean yes, “No” if you mean no; anything more than this comes from the evil one.’

Reflection on the Work of Art

For Jesus, real virtue is in the depths of our hearts. He tells His disciples that for the Pharisees, virtue was largely measured by the external observance of the law. Christ always brings virtue back to the heart. Yes, what it comes down to is a simple question: what is more important to us, keeping the rules or keeping the relationship with Christ?

For Christ, honesty is not to be triggered by merely swearing an oath or living by rules. It should come from the heart and every word we speak should come out of the heart. However, the danger is that we may think that Jesus casts aside the law and cuts us some slack. He actually does the opposite. Jesus does not reject the law, BUT He intensifies it. In the words spoken by Jesus in today’s reading we see that He brings continuity and consistency between the Old and the New Testaments. What He does do is to ask that we interiorise the law, rather than just leave it in the exterior realm. This means that we have to live our lives from the inside out, coming from the heart… This counters the idea that we can be one person 'inside' and project a different personality to the 'outside’. Of course we all do that to some degree, but Christ is asking us to counter that and work on this.

Our heart-shaped painting by Damien Hirst is covered with butterflies. His fascination with butterflies stems from the idea that even when butterflies are dead, they appear to be alive on the canvas, set against a lively burst of colours. Looking at these types of works by Damien, it seems that they are slightly disturbing as one looks at dead butterflies, but yet there is something very attractive and joyful about the artwork. The lifecycle of butterflies is so short. Our lives are short. Butterflies are delicate and vulnerable, as are our lives. Butterflies are beautiful on the outside. We are called to beauty on the outside and the inside, through a personal relationship with Christ.

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