Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti
The Creation of Adam
The Creation of Adam is a fresco painting by Italian artist Michelangelo, which forms part of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling, painted c. 1508–1512. It illustrates the Biblical creation narrative from the Book of Genesis in which God gives life to Adam, the first man.
God is depicted as an elderly white-bearded Caucasian man wrapped in a swirling cloak while Adam, on the lower left, is completely naked. God's right arm is outstretched to impart the spark of life from his own finger into that of Adam, whose left arm is extended in a pose mirroring God's, a reminder that man is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26).
Another point is that Adam's finger and God's finger aren't touching. It gives the impression that God, the giver of life, is reaching out to Adam who has yet to receive it.
The person protected by God's left arm represents Eve, due to the figure's feminine appearance and gaze towards Adam.
The background figures and shapes portrayed behind the figure of God appeared to be an anatomically accurate picture of the human brain.
Alternatively, it has been observed that the red cloth around God has the shape of a human uterus (one art historian has called it a "uterine mantle") and that the scarf hanging out, coloured green, could be a newly-cut umbilical cord. It presents the Creation scene as an idealised representation of the physical birth of man ("The Creation"). It explains the navel that appears on Adam, which is at first perplexing because he was created, not born of a woman.
25 “At that time Jesus said,
‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’. 28 ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’”.
We have just read in Chapter 10 very sombre statements about persecutions and Jesus bringing fire to the earth.
This text, called “the Pearl” in the Gospel of Matthew, looks like a beam of sunlight in the middle of a storm.
Last week’s Gospel about Saint Peter’s commissioning comes later in the Gospel (Matthew 16) and in a way confirms what we read today: “Blessed are you Peter, for it was my Father who revealed these things to you”.
In Chapters 11-13 Matthew explores people’s different reactions to Jesus: some are positive, some are neutral and others are contrary to him. Jesus clarifies on the one hand who will show openness to the action of the Spirit and, on the other, who will be unable to recognize the truth that He came to bring.
The unspecified time frame “in that time” expresses the permanent disposition of the heart of Jesus turned towards God, the Father, always in an attitude of prayer and praise.
This Gospel passage contains:
a thanksgiving, a teaching and an invitation
The first words are spoken to the Father. They explain the division between the wise and learned, and the “simple hearted” (in our text translated by “infant”).
The wise and learned
In the Old Testament we find both positive and negative views about wisdom and knowledge. While the Prophets warn against the pride of the wise, the whole of Wisdom Literature praises the great gift God gives to the wise.
The prevailing mentality in the time of Jesus was that those who keep the Law of God are wise. The learned being the Pharisees and the Scribes who, with their knowledge of the Scriptures, consider that they have acquired God’s Wisdom through the study of the Torah and its strict application. No-one else knew about the mystery of God. Scribes and Pharisees know about God’s will, others just need to fulfill the norms and laws they issue as revealed by God himself.
The simple of heart
Saint Matthew writes his Gospel to encourage the Members of his Christian Community. He identifies them with “the simple of heart”: because, they do not pretend to know everything about God, and so, they are ready to learn more and accommodate their lives to the Gospel.
In contrast with the Pharisees and the Doctors of the Law, the “simple of heart” are:
1. Those who accept Jesus as the Messiah:
a. Even if He is not the expected revolutionary leader;
b. Even if He eats and drinks with sinners.
2. Those who feel challenged by Jesus’ message of conversion.
It may be argued that being simple hearted or being wise depends on one’s ability to understand and assimilate intellectual data. However, according to Jesus, divine Wisdom is beyond our reach. Only “God has hidden these things from the learned and revealed them to the humble of heart”. As W. B. Yeats (the Irish Poet and Mystic) wrote: “Can one reach God by toil? He gives himself to the pure in heart. He asks nothing but our attention”.
This is a fact that Jesus does not try to explain or to argue: He simply accepts this as God’s design and praises the Father for those who are open to receiving His message of Salvation.
This is a short Christological discourse in Matthew’s Gospel:
a) “All things have been handed over to me by my Father” means that whatever
Jesus does or says comes to him from the Father and in three ways:
1. Jesus judges and his judgement is right;
2. He gives his life and his self-giving is total and out of love;
3. Jesus reveals the Father.
All these will show the face of a loving and merciful Father; unlike the teaching of
the Scribes and Pharisees who teach about an omnipotent entity far from the reach
of man and alien to the lives of the poor.
b) It is possible to know the Father by looking at Jesus himself. However, Jesus
says that it is impossible to know about the Son. There is always an element of
Mystery and something new to discover about Jesus; not even a deep relationship
with Him will ever exhaust knowledge about God.
Invitation to Freedom
Jesus’ self-revelation of Himself is offered to all, and is shown through his words and deeds.
While the yoke of God’s law imposed by Pharisees and Scribes becomes ever heavier and shows a distorted image of God as a severe and exacting judge, the yoke of Jesus is light and frees the disciple from the demands of the law. The person has become more important than the law.
It is suggested that this text could be translated as: “My yoke fits well”, meaning that “the life I give you is not too heavy a burden to you; your task is made to measure to fit you”. Whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities. “The burden which is given in love and carried in love is always light”.
The meek of heart are the non-violent Members of the community of Jesus in contrast with the violence of the Pharisees.
· The disciple comes to the experiential knowledge of the Father by contemplating
the face of the Son, and comes to the experiential knowledge of the Son as the
Father reveals Him … so that man may be definitely free from the image of an alien
and strange God.
· The disciple finds rest by imitating Jesus.
Humility is not stupidity (intellectual pride) because “the heart, not the head, is the home of the Gospel” (Pummer).
“Still to the lowly soul he does himself impart, and for his dwelling and his throne chooses the pure in heart”.
O God, will You Restore Us
O God, will You restore us, and grant us Your salvation?
I will hear what God proclaims
The Lord our God proclaims peace
Kindness and truth shall meet
Justice and peace shall kiss
“Here is the fast I choose –
To loosen the bonds of the oppressed and break their chains
Let righteousness and justice go out before you
Then you will call out and I will hear"
Near indeed is His salvation to those who call on Him
He will incline is ear and hear their prayers
Truth shall spring out of the earth
and Justice will rain down from heaven
The Lord will guide you on a righteous path
His vindication will shine down forth as the dawn
Your people will be called repairers of broken walls
making straight the path to proclaim His reign!
Bifrost Arts: Album: Lamentations: