The Statue of Brothers,
Sculpted by Choi Young-Jeep (Korean Artist),
Executed in 1994,
Patinated bronze, stone and bricks
© War Memorial in Seoul, South Korea
Love your enemies
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You have learnt how it was said: You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’
Reflection on the Public Sculpture
Jesus today asks us not only to forgive our enemies but to 'love' them, which is a whole different thing. Forgiveness is not enough: it needs to lead to love! In the sculpture we are looking at today, we see this happening in a very real and tangible way. It depicts a South Korean older brother soldier embracing his younger brother who was part of the North Korean army. They are meeting in a battlefield. Their embrace demonstrates reconciliation, forgiveness and ultimately leads to the two brothers loving each other again.
On 25th June 1950 North Korea invaded its southern neighbour, sparking the Korean War. A bloody and sad battle ensued which lasted until 1953, with the United States supporting South Korea and China lending support to its communist ally, North Korea. In 1994 this War Memorial, called Statue of Brothers by Choi Young-Jeep, was unveiled in Seoul. The 11-metre-high sculpture symbolises the desire of the two peoples of Korea for reunification. Both figures are standing on a cracked dome representing the ongoing division of the two countries. This lower tomb-shaped dome was built with pieces of granite collected from nationwide locations, again accentuating the unifying qualities of the sculpture. The love between the two brothers stands tall above the cracked dome… brotherly love triumphs over the divisions.
Looking closer, we can also see that the larger, older brother is armed, by contrast with the younger one who is smaller, unarmed and therefore comes across as defenceless and weak. Yet, armed or unarmed, they are there for each other. Since God’s love does not discriminate, our love must not discriminate against anyone either; we must love both friends or enemies.
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Readings related to Matthew 5:43-48
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