Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on March 18, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 5:17-19

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Scripture scholars believe that a Jewish scribe or a group of Jewish scribes who converted to Christianity wrote the gospel of Matthew. The evangelist’s preoccupation is to show the connection of Jesus to the tradition of Israel, and we see evidence of this intention in today’s gospel reading. Jesus tells us in this passage that he has not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it. He seeks not break away from the tradition but to transcend it through a deeper understanding of the law’s implications for our inner lives. The law is a danger to us if we follow only its letter; it must radiate through our thoughts and actions, and we must be prepared even to break its letter when it is necessary to fulfill its spirit.

Saint of the day: Fra Angelico was a famous painter of the Florentine school, born near Castello di Vicchio in the province of Mugello, Tuscany, 1387, he died at Rome, 1455. He was christened Guido, and his father’s name being Pietro, he was known as Guido, or Guidolino, di Pietro, but his full appellation today is that of “Blessed Fra Angelico Giovanni da Fiesole.” He and his supposed younger brother, Fra Benedetto da Fiesole, or da Mugello, joined the order of Preachers in 1407, entering the Dominican convent at Fiesole.

Fra Angelico was twenty years old at the time the brothers began their art careers as illustrators of manuscripts, and Fra Benedetto, who had considerable talent as an illuminator and miniaturist, is supposed to have assisted his more celebrated brother in his famous frescoes in the convent of San Marco in Florence. Fra Benedetto was superior at San Dominico at Fiesole for some years before his death in 1448. Fra Angelico, who during a residence at Foligno had come under the influence of Giotto whose work at Assisi was within easy reach, soon graduated from the illumination of missals and choir books into a remarkably naive and inspiring maker of religious paintings, who glorified the quaint naturalness of his types with a peculiarly pious mysticism. He was convinced that to picture Christ perfectly one must need be Christlike, and Vasari says that he prefaced his paintings by prayer. His technical equipment was somewhat slender, as was natural for an artist with his beginnings, his work being rather thin dry and hard.

His spirit, however, glorified his paintings. His noble holy figures, his beautiful angels, human but in form, robed with the hues of the sunrise and sunset, and his supremely earnest saints and martyrs are permeated with the sincerest of religious feeling. His early training in miniature and illumination had its influence in his more important works, with their robes of golden embroidery, their decorative arrangements and details, and pure, brilliant colors. As for the early studies in art of Fra Angelico, nothing is known. His painting shows the influence of the Siennese school, and it is thought he may have studied under Gherardo, Starnina, or Lorenzo Monaco.

Spiritual reading: Do not forget that holiness consists not in extraordinary actions,

but in performing your duties towards God, yourself, and others well. (Text for the Assumption by Maximilian Kolbe, 1940)