A sprig of red-currants with insects,
Painting by Jan van Kessel I (1626-1679),
Painted in 1657,
Oil on copper
© Sotheby’s London, 3 December 2014, lot 36 (one of a pair), sold £542,000

A sprig of red-currants with insects,
Painting by Jan van Kessel I (1626-1679),
Painted in 1657,
Oil on copper
© Sotheby’s London, 3 December 2014, lot 36 (one of a pair), sold £542,000

Gospel of 21 June 2024

Moths and woodworms destroy earthly treasures

Matthew 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Do not store up treasures for yourselves on earth, where moths and woodworms destroy them and thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where neither moth nor woodworms destroy them and thieves cannot break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

‘The lamp of the body is the eye. It follows that if your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be all darkness. If then, the light inside you is darkness, what darkness that will be!’

Reflection on the painting

Our painting on copper panel was executed in 1657 by Jan van Kessel. He is known for painting insects and fruit with meticulous detail. A wide array of insects, systematically placed and ordered, is carefully painted and seems to float on the surface, the effect achieved by the shadows underneath the insects. The juxtaposition of Van Kessel's animated insects and the redcurrants and two moths delights the viewer. There is a certain cheerfulness that emanates from these paintings. Yet the message is profound: the animals and fruit depicted are fleeting, here one day, gone the next.

During the 17th century there was a flourishing interest in collecting cabinets of curiosities. These encyclopaedic collections of natural objects, insects, flowers, animals and stones were regarded as a microcosm of the world: Nature and Creation summarised in a cabinet. A painting such as the one we see today could have fronted a drawer of one of those cabinets of curiosities.

So Jesus mentions moths and woodworms in our reading today. Moths eat away at the most exquisite textiles; woodworms wind their way through the most beautiful of woods. Jesus uses these images to invite us to a perfect detachment from all things. He warns us against storing up treasures on earth: they don't last, and we can't take anything with us when we leave these earthly shores.

After the death of  John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest men of his time, someone asked his accountant: 'How much money did John leave?' The accountant simply answered: 'He didn't take any of it with him, he left ... all of it.'

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Elvira
Member
Elvira
23 days ago

¡How important are the eyes, the vision and the look!. Father Patrick describes the effect achieved by the shadows on insects… I have enlarged the image to observe it well… My vision is quite bad… The best stage of my life was after being operated on by cataracts at 44 years…so I could be without glasses for several years and it was wonderful. But after those years I started seeing double, which invalidated me a lot, to the point that I didn’t dare to go out alone. Today glasses with prisms have corrected my visual approach and I can defend myself. But the best part is that I am currently following a visual therapy that is miraculously helping me to see with stereoscopes and I have managed to realize that things have three dimensions. Little by little I appreciate the beauty of nature, clouds, trees, birds…. My perception of sculpture and painting has changed radically, I already “see” how artists express the three dimensions with the backgrounds and figures in the front line (I could put examples, which have excited me, but I would lengthen this post a lot). When I studied Art it was all so theoretical, very difficult for me to understand Art and pass the Art exams. For all this, I now enjoy CA and the explanations that you bring to the works of art. I thank you immensely

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
23 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Super interesting, Elvira. So happy that you are being helped with your sight!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

My eyes are excellent, thank God, I have the same reading glasses that I had when I was 40. My hearing, unfortunately is deteriorating rather rapidly and I am having to turn up the volume on my hearing aids regularly.
I do feel for you and your eyesight Elvira. You seem to be making strides forward in understanding pictorial art. It is such a joy!

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
23 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

And thank you immensely Elvira !
… for the testimony of your “Look”- struggles, the many vision Graces, and ‘soundness of your soul’s eye’ … regardless. Certainly this is the stuff of one’s heart’s true Treasure! (I’m wondering how this rather odd/awkward paragraph will translate – grin).

If you’ll permit me to illustrate via a bit of ‘fun’ with your translation today. From your Spanish to English I want to highlight a few ‘beautiful grammatical anomalies’

“The vision and the Look.”
I recall of late in C A someone making a similar observation between the ‘function’ of vision and the act of REALLY ‘looking’: being able to really ‘see’ … by through the eyes of God … the fantastic details of His Glory in the most mundane. Incidentally, wormwood, can render incredible beauty and value to an old piece of seemingly rotted wood, in the hands of a great craftsman.

“…which invalidated me a lot, to the point that I didn’t dare to go out alone.”
I really like the (Google translate’s? ) use of the phrase ‘invalidated me’. I wondered if the Spanish word you were using was re: ‘making an invalid of’. While ‘invalidate’ has the definition more to do with – using a bit of poetic interpretation – ‘leaving you unable to attain a sound theory of space, color and form, secularly adept enough … to prove the existence of God’s miraculous touch … without the scriptural context.’

But, “with prisms [of Grace] have corrected my visual approach and I can defend myself with the pure appreciation of “… the beauty of nature, clouds, trees, birds…. My perception of sculpture and painting”, which argues God’s glory “radically”! (cf. Rom. 1:20)

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
23 days ago
Reply to  Will Howard

¡Y muchísimas gracias Elvira!
… por el testimonio de tu “Mirada”: las luchas, las muchas Gracias de la visión y la “sanidad de los ojos de tu alma”… independientemente. ¡Ciertamente esto es lo que constituye el verdadero Tesoro del corazón! (Me pregunto cómo se traducirá este párrafo bastante extraño/incómodo – sonrisa).

Si me permite ilustrar un poco de “diversión” con su traducción de hoy. De tu español a inglés quiero resaltar algunas ‘hermosas anomalías gramaticales’

“La visión y la Mirada”.
Recuerdo que últimamente en C A alguien hizo una observación similar entre la ‘función’ de la visión y el acto de ‘mirar’ REALMENTE: ser capaz de ‘ver’ realmente… a través de los ojos de Dios… los detalles fantásticos de Su Gloria en el lo más mundano. Por cierto, el ajenjo puede aportar una belleza y un valor increíbles a una vieja pieza de madera aparentemente podrida, en manos de un gran artesano.

“…lo cual me invalidó mucho, al punto que no me atrevía a salir solo”.
Me gusta mucho el uso (¿traductor de Google?) de la frase “me invalidó”. Me preguntaba si la palabra española que estabas usando era re: “inválido de”. Si bien la definición de ‘invalidar’ tiene más que ver con (usando un poco de interpretación poética) ‘dejarte incapaz de alcanzar una teoría sólida del espacio, el color y la forma, lo suficientemente secularmente adecuada… para probar la existencia del toque milagroso de Dios… sin el contexto bíblico.’

Pero, “con los prismas [de Gracia] he corregido mi enfoque visual y puedo defenderme con la apreciación pura de “… la belleza de la naturaleza, las nubes, los árboles, los pájaros…. Mi percepción de la escultura y la pintura”, que argumenta “radicalmente” la gloria de Dios. (cf. Romanos 1:20)

Liz Allen
Member
Liz Allen
23 days ago

Note the monetary value of the painting !

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Liz Allen

Why Liz? Cheap or expensive?

Liz Allen
Member
Liz Allen
23 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

So expensive, but will decay

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
24 days ago

Such attention to detail in today’s painting: a hawkmoth, a marbled white butterfly, and, possibly, a tiger moth, plus a ladybird about to take flight – and beetles. Plus redcurrants, such an important ingredient in traditional English cookery. The picture, as seen nowadays, is all nostalgia, with the disappearance of so much of our insect life. Remember windscreens plastered with insects after a night drive in the country? And who nowadays would have the patience to pick and strip redcurrants and go through the jelly making process? My late mother-in-law made jams and jellies as a matter of course, part of normal household duties; she was born in 1907. (This isn’t the forum to discuss what we should do about the depletion of nature, just hope everyone with a garden has done No Mow May!)
Nostalgia is when our hearts yearn for something that has gone – either for us as individuals, or disappeared from the world at large. It can lead to sadness and disenchantment with life, negativity. That’s not where Jesus wants our hearts to be, dwelling on past ‘treasure’. The only way we can stay positive is to keep our eyes on Jesus and His plans for our future, so that, as the gospel puts it, our bodies are filled with light and hope.

Last edited 24 days ago by Jeanne M
Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
24 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

All true Noelle…

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
24 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Do I sense a but…..?

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

You do not Noelle!

Some time ago, I believe you said that you were seeking intellectual stimulation on CA. You implied that you weren’t getting too much of that at home. I hope I’m not overstating that?

I am in the same position. I love my wife deeply but that element is not over abundant. I have a female friend that I go to art shows with and my wife has been very accomodating in letting me have this friend. I know a lot of others wouldn’t be so indulgent.

Our friendship begins and ends with art and is thus platonic in the full sense of the word. In other words something unites you that is outside both of you. A friendship that goes through an intermediary. It can be most enriching – it is for me.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
23 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

You weren’t overstating the case, Chazbo. You have found a very practical and happy solution, you’re most fortunate. No one person can share all another’s interests, and
thankfully modern mores allow us the freedom to make friends outside the family circle. I had a similarly good friend in Madrid, and here am blessed to have amazing, clever girlfriends who keep me on my toes!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
23 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

“Tempus fugit”: time escapes…. When I was 18…. I have great memories associated with every year of my life. Instead, now over 65 years old…, I feel that the years are passing faster and faster. But if time flies….. let’s take it: “Carpe diem”… Let us put our eyes on Jesus!! Very well said… We will find answers…. Why does time run so fast? What will we find after death? What is the ideal beauty? What is the ideal place? What role does fortune play? Is destiny written?

I’m sure you know …but it is interesting the difference in Spanish between nostalgia and melancholy, not if it is so in English… Nostalgia allows us to appreciate the moments and experiences that have enriched our lives, while melancholy reminds us of the importance of living in the present and value what we have before it becomes a nostalgic or melancholic memory.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
23 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Psychologists say that the reason time passes faster when you get older is because you are planning the next thing we are not thinking about what is happening now. Maybe it’s the next holiday or dinner next Friday etc.
When you were a child in the sandpit you thought about now, you didn’t think about what you were doing tomorrow or the day after.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
23 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

How often do we hear that..the importance of living in the moment? So true. Morning Thimas.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
23 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

I think in childhood… the discovery of the unknown, the constant experience of new experiences, the inability to measure time, make time go more slowly. When we grow up, the novelties are less, everything becomes more familiar, it is more difficult for something to surprise us, everything happens fast. Because we use the number of new memories to measure how long it’s been… For example, a normal week in which there is nothing memorable we perceive as the time is shrinking, that is why we have the feeling that everything happens faster… However at times … we have the feeling that the days pass at an average or slow speed, but we are surprised when we think back on the year in which we are, again my birthday, again Christmas…remind us how many months and years have passed or how quickly birthdays return, the Christmas….
Perhaps today’s gospel gives us a key…time is “our treasure”, today that we have many years…let us fill our time with experiences and experiences… and time will pass more slowly…and where “our treasure” is also our heart

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Very good Elvira. Life is so much more vital when we are young. A trip abroad, a new girlfriend, buying your first house. How exciting!!

Now one can easily let world weariness take over although I have no plans to let that happen.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

Now I’m in my 70s I think mostly about now as I can’t remember a lot of the past!! As for the future I just hope I’ll be gone when the robot armies start killing us all!! Lol!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Melancholy in English is quite an old fashioned word that often meant depression. It was used a lot by our great romantic poets.

Nostalgia, for me, is a pleasant warm feeling trawling back over good times in the past. Luckily we humans seem to filter out the bad stuff.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
23 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I didn’t see your post about melancholy, Chazbo, but we seem to agree on that….

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
23 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

These subtleties are so interesting, Elvira. In England, I think (I’m never quite sure!) that nostalgia is indulged in, but slightly disapproved of. Melancholy is rather old-fashioned, as a word, though plenty suffer from it. The Welsh have ‘hierath’, the Portuguese ‘saudade’, and the Spanish ‘añoranza’ – is that right? – but I never heard the word used while I was there. Was it inhibited by the Civil War, the rule of Franco, and the subsequent ‘pacto de olvido’?? Personally, I enjoy looking back on the good things, especially my times abroad, they have left an unforgettable/indelible impression. Plus I have a deep yearning for high temperatures, up to 40C was OK by me!!

Monica Doyle
Member
Monica Doyle
24 days ago

Forgot to add that the painting is exquisite… like a photo! No way would I have the patience for that… not my treasure😉 Thanks Fr Patrick!

Monica Doyle
Member
Monica Doyle
24 days ago

Another take can be “What and where is my treasure?… I recently lost my glasses (short sighted) and to see properly I’ve to wear my sunglasses even in doors to see… Darkness does prevent you from seeing right!! Our Lord had/has it in one 👍

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
24 days ago

Redcurrants – in theory tasty and full of the right vitamins etc but in reality bitter and need loads of sugar to make them palatable!

A bit like Jesus’ teachings in a way; the bitterness being the eschewing of many worldly pleasures and the sugar being the happiness of being close to God and eternal life to come…Is that a bit laboured? Lol!

Janey M
Member
Janey M
24 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Very deep, Chazbo, full of clarity, you have understood and shared something profound (what happened😉).

Does holding on to things mean people too.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
24 days ago
Reply to  Janey M

Morning Janey. Doesn’t it depend? Is it holding on for your benefit, or being faithful to someone for their benefit.

Janey M
Member
Janey M
24 days ago
Reply to  Jeanne M

Noelle, thank you, but the answer is “I don’t know”. I’m done with the present situation, do I wait patiently for God to answer my prayers, or has He answered them and I don’t know it. I think …… I must do what I have always done – pray and hope, but not tell others how to be, if I stay quiet, perhaps I can be a conduit of Grace. Hey- ho, who said life was easy. But, I have a lovely piece of artwork to take my attention today, thanks be to God.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
24 days ago
Reply to  Janey M

Quietness sounds good, Janey. “Take from our souls the strain and stress/ and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Thy peace.” I like the example from the animal world: when sick or in distress they stay very still, in a quiet place….. All the best 🙏

George K
Member
George K
23 days ago
Reply to  Janey M

I think it depends on whether I ‘need’ them or I choose to be with them.

Elvira
Member
Elvira
23 days ago
Reply to  George K

You hit the nail on the head, George

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago
Reply to  Janey M

I’m letting go of people. Everyone in your life is a bit of a compromise and now I don’t fancy compromising. So people I’ve always found about 50/50 are now getting the order of the boot. Quite a relief actually…

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
24 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Excellent analogy C and not at all laboured.
I was down your way yesterday and ate a Croque Monsieur in Minnow (by the common) – approx two week’s worth of my cheese allowance. 😋

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
24 days ago

Couldn’t resist having a look at this place, Patricia, looks delightful. Now I’ve got nostalgia for the delights of the metropolis…

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
23 days ago

I’ve just checked out ‘The Minnow’ and I’ve never been to it although it looks fun….We eat out infrequently and when we do it tends to be down the local Indian and Pakistani restaurants which are of a very high standar round here.

Jeanne M
Member
Jeanne M
24 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Guess the dilemma is worse for some than others! – certainly is for me, so much of creation and civilisation gives so much pleasure!!

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