McGrath Highway,
Painted by Gregory Thielker (born 1979),
Painted in 2006,
Oil on canvas
© Gregory Thielker artist

McGrath Highway,
Painted by Gregory Thielker (born 1979),
Painted in 2006,
Oil on canvas
© Gregory Thielker artist

Gospel of 2 December 2021

Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew

Matthew 7:21,24-27

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘It is not those who say to me, “Lord, Lord,” who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and hurled themselves against that house, and it did not fall: it was founded on rock. But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand. Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew and struck that house, and it fell; and what a fall it had!’

Reflection on the Painting

Rain came down, floods rose, gales blew… plenty of warnings in our Gospel reading today to encourage us to build a rock solid prayer life and aim for great spiritual depth. Our painting today illustrates such rain and gales that can at times surround us. Our hyperrealist painting by Gregory Thielker depicts a rainy landscape through the front windshield of a car. Yes, this is a painting, and not a photograph! The rain distorts the view; the rain makes the landscape or the traffic hard to see. That’s is what storms do deep inside us: they twist things, they upset us, they blur things. Jesus prompts us to be firm in our resolve and our faith, so that we can always see clearly.

But reading the Gospel today made me think especially of our Church which has been going through quite some storms through her two thousand year history. The storms of the child abuse scandals are still howling as we speak. Jesus recognises that difficult times are part of our journey and the Church’s journey. So the question is, how do we equip ourselves, individually and as a Church, to withstand those storms? Not equipping ourselves would just mean that we would be at the complete mercy of the storm and be tossed about hopelessly. Prayer provides that rock. And today we are invited not just to pray for ourselves but also for our Church.

Our hyper-realist painting is very poignant for today’s reading: the rain on the windshield obscures the view: colours blend; colours (such as the rear lights of the cars) are out of place;  the bridge is distorted; flatness becomes three dimensional; perspectives slip. The personal turmoils we go through can do the same and distort our views on reality and what really matters. Prayer is the best protection, offering stability in any storm we may face.

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