Today’s Gospel in Art: Feast of Saint John Henry Newman


John Henry Newman by William Thomas Roden © Manchester Art Gallery

Source: Christian art

Gospel of October 9, 2021 – Matthew 13: 47-52

Jesus said to the crowd, “The kingdom of heaven is like a net cast into the sea, bringing spoil of all kinds. When it is full, the fishermen bring it back to land; then, sitting down, they collect the vouchers in a basket and throw away those that are useless. It will be so at the end of time: the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the righteous to throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“Did you understand all this? They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder coming out of his barn of new and old.’

Reflection on painting

This three quarter frontal portrait of Cardinal John Henry Newman was painted by William Thomas Roden circa 1874. We see Cardinal Newman portrayed as an elderly man with white hair, wearing a cassock according to the Congregation of the Oratory of St Philip Neri who he settled in England. The Cardinal is seated in a plain wooden armchair with a curved back, against a neutral brown gradient background. His two hands are resting on his right knee and he looks quietly to the left. It is a pensive portrait, almost with a touch of melancholy. Of all of Newman’s portraits, this is probably one of my favorites.

Today we celebrate the feast of Cardinal Newman. I would like to share with you a link to a series of podcasts that the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has put together. The podcasts provide a good overview of the breadth of Newman’s teaching and preaching through the thoughts of people who were inspired by him. Click on here to access podcasts.

Today’s gospel of nets thrown into the sea to catch fish of all kinds tells us that as a church we must attract everyone. Our Church is a Church made up of good people, sinners, liberals, conservatives, traditionalists, innovators, passive people, active people, etc. This is the beauty of the Church of Christ. Jesus has cast his nets and we are lovingly taken under his good care. It is the drama of Christian life in our church, that we must all work together for its glory, even though we have different points of view. Cardinal Newman said that “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”. We can all help each other to change, and change often….


Today’s story –
Christian art –

Key words: Christian art, Patrick van der Vorst, William Thomas Roden

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