Ordinary Time: Proper 11

Madonna of the Mango Grove by Frank Wesley – Egg tempera, www.frankwesleyart.com (The image is found at this blog article which also gives information on the artist who is of Indian descent.)

July 17, 2022 Lectionary Texts — Year C
Amos 8:1-12 and Psalm 52 • Genesis 18:1-10a and Psalm 15 • Colossians 1:15-28 • Luke 10:38-42

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He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. — Colossians 1:15,19,26-27

Image description: A beautifully dressed and adorned Mary holds the infant Christ while standing under two mango trees in a garden setting. The negative space under the trees is filled with a vibrant orange color. A large gold halo surrounds Mary’s head. The baby appears to be looking over Mary’s shoulder at a white bird perched in the the tree at left. The tree at right bears fruit on the half above Mary while the rest of the tree appears to be only in bloom. Several uniquely colored/textured oval shaped shrubs occupy the garden space below the blooming half of the right-hand tree. A group of birds sits in the grass in front of the shrubs. The overall coloration of the piece is warm and vibrant and the style reflects the artist’s Indian heritage.

What a delight to have discovered the works of Frank Wesley in my search for an art piece for today. It is good to find those artists who can expand and help us explore visuals beyond those of Western art and culture. It is so valuable for artists of other cultures and their work to bring out different aspects of an image, scene, concept or gift the viewer with a completely different feeling and understanding of the Divine. Frank Wesley’s work does this. His visual approach brings a tenderness and femininity as well as a colorful joy to this Madonna and Child image.
I made connections with Madonna of the Mango Grove with these Scripture mentions:

  • a basket of summer fruit — Amos 8:1,2
  • “But my life is abundant — like a lush olive tree cared for at the house of the one True God.” — Psalm 52:8
  • “your wife Sarah shall have a son.” — Genesis 18:10
  • “Eternal One, who is invited to stay in Your dwelling?” — Psalm 15:1

Practicing Visio Divina:

  1. View the artwork
    What do you see?

    Note shapes – color – style – movement
    What stands out for you?
    What are you curious about?
    What questions do you have?
    Hold back any feelings – judgments – opinions
  2. Read the accompanying scripture and look over the artwork again
    What connections do you make?

    Between the image and text?
    What is coming to mind from your own experience?
    What feelings are rising in you?
    Are you uncomfortable with something?
    There are no right or wrong answers
  3. Read the scripture again and explore the artwork a third time
    What do you hear?

    What is God saying to you?
    What do you wish to speak to God?
    What blessing or prayer is rising in you?

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