This Sunday begins the fortnight of Passiontide. As summer fades into Autumn and the leaves begin to turn. So we turn our heads towards Holy Week and the Cross. Let this week be one where you pause, reflect and pray, before we journey together into Holy Week.
During his lifetime, Vincent van Gogh painted a number of works with the sower and with wheat fields. This particular image is one of the sower with the setting sun, and stands by the Japanese-style tree transecting the image. The use of colour is also remarkable: the yellow sun, green sky, pink clouds, purple fields, the black-blue tree and the blue-green figure give us a surreal colour palette. We feel it’s the end of a cold day, despite the large sun. The surreal colours also hint at an otherworldly reality. The image is deeply evocative of death and letting go, though the subject matter of sowing seeds also brings with it the themes of hope and anticipation of new life.
Three elements form the major parts of the image: the yellow sun, the dark tree branch, and the blue-green figure of the sower. For van Gogh, these were regular symbols; the sun evoked the divine and the sower anticipated the future. These two together give us a sense of the end times with hope for the Reign of God. Along these lines, the tree, especially in its stark darkness as it transects the image, is evocative of the cross. One does not get to experience the promise of future hope and fullness without grappling with the reality of the cross.
A beautiful gesture offered by the sower is one of letting go. Casting the golden seeds on the purple ground is more than just a perfunctory act—it is letting go, literally and figuratively, so that these seeds may find good soil and so that new life may emerge. Jesus’ words from the Gospel echo throughout the painting: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Death here pertains to the seed, to Jesus foreshadowing his own Passion, and to each of us facing finitude, both daily and at the end of our lives. Yet, the seeds which the sower drops are golden, reflecting the large sun dominating the back of the image and reflecting the eternal life of the divine. In the field, the sower carries on, even as he nears the tree, with determination, resolve, and hope.
Commentary is by Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, assistant professor of liturgy, catechesis, and evangelization at Loyola University New Orleans.
- Vicarage Building Fund: home baking and pottles of soup provided by the Women’s Fellowship are available today in the hall after Mass. Please give generously.
- Easter Raffle: wonderful prizes on offer. Tickets available today, $1 each or 3 for $5. To be drawn on Low Sunday.
- Palm Sunday to Easter 2017: if you would like to read Fr Andrew’s sermons (in print or by email) please contact the parish office before Friday to receive your copy by Sunday.
- Stations of the Cross: today at 5:00 pm.
- Bible Study Group meets tomorrow, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
- Women’s Fellowship meets Tuesday 10:30 am in the parish lounge. Margaret Burrell will speak about the Rebirth of Drama in the Western World from its beginning within the Easter Mass. Please remember items for Walsh House. All welcome. Details Pat Evans (358 0127).
- Meditation Group meets in the Lady Chapel on Wednesday at 12 noon. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215).
- Lent Study Groups: Thursday at 11:00 am and 6:00 pm.
- Palm Sunday ceremonies begin at 9:30 am in the school atrium.
- Parish AGM 15 April: reports to parish office by next Sunday please.
- Book Swap: in the parish lounge. CDs also available. Koha to parish.
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.