I am a visual person, I tend to think and remember far more accurately through images. This week’s painting is one that challenges and draws the eye into the raw emotions. Please do look at this on line and see for yourselves the detail.
Quentin Matsys, the Flemish master of the 16th century, was known for his caricature painting and satirical commentary. In his Jesus Chasing the Merchants from the Temple, we see his caricatural style shine. Each person in this image has a unique expression, even the lamb being carried away in the centre of the scene. Matsys was not one for flattery—the faces of some of the merchants border on grotesque, though not all. He is careful to maintain these as human faces, ones we can identify with and see ourselves in.
The scene includes the range of characters noted in the Gospel story. Christ is in the centre, driving out the merchants with his rope whip, three merchants receiving his blows. One of them, perhaps a money changer, lies on the ground, his table flipped, his coins scattered. Another merchant is just making his escape with a lamb on his back, while the most grotesque one on the left is trying to get away with his goods under his arms. In the back left, three distinguished-looking men observe—these are perhaps the Jewish leaders who debate with Christ about the Temple in John’s
Gospel. To the right of the scene are three additional onlookers: one more merchant partially concealed by a sack, a seated figure, and a Temple-goer, whom we see in profile.
The setting evokes the idea of the Temple, but in fact it is a high-Gothic church contemporary to the artist’s time, perhaps the Cathedral of Antwerp, the town where the artist was most active. Likewise, the colourful clothes each character wears tell us that Matsys set this scene not in the Temple of first-century Jerusalem, but in his own 16th century. This is a not-so-subtle satirical commentary suggesting that perhaps the Church at his time needed Jesus’ cleansing. Yet, through the use of thoroughly human faces, it is not just the people of Matsys’s time that needed repentance and
purification. The image invites us to see ourselves in it as well, to see and acknowledge honestly those areas of our lives needing a major cleaning. The variety of faces offer several entry points for us—the person on the ground, the one escaping, the one looking on, the one hiding, the one at a critical
distance—where do we find ourselves in this image?
Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, assistant professor of liturgy, catechesis, and evangelisationat Loyola University New Orleans.
The Reverend Anne Price
- Lunch at Regatta on Avon: today at 12 noon. Details Alice.
- Flowers for Mothering Sunday: please bring small posies for blessing and giving to mothers and caregivers next Sunday, when we will be joined by the school community.
- Communion at 3: next Sunday at 3:00 pm.
- Stations of the Cross: Sundays at 5:00 pm during Lent.
- Bible Study Group meets weekly during Lent, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
- Climate Action Group meets in the parish lounge on Tuesday at 1:30 pm.
- Needlework Group meets in the parish lounge on Tuesday at 7:15 pm. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
- Meditation Group meets in the Lady Chapel on Wednesdays at 12 noon. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215).
- Lent Study Groups: Thursdays at 11:00 am and 6:00 pm in the parish lounge.
- Saturday Breakfast: 10 March at 9:45 am in the parish lounge. Details Ros Calvert.
- Parish AGM 15 April: reports to parish office by 25 March please.
- Double knitting or 4 ply wool, any colour, needed to make hats for distribution through Walsh House. Please place in basket at the back of the church.
- Book Swap: in the parish lounge. Koha to parish.
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.