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Lent – a time of prayer and mercy

III Sunday of Lent

Jesus drives the merchants out of the temple

Guercino GennariIs there mercy in God’s wrath? Certainly yes because God is just and corrects. Defending the Faith and the place of worship is an act of justice. When Jesus in Jerusalem found in the temple, merchants, animals and money changers, he overturned their tables, threw the money on the ground, threw them all out of the temple saying: take these things away from here, do not make my Father’s house a market place. Several artists have illustrated this episode from the Gospel and among them is Gennari Bartolomeo who, in the first half of the 1600s, collaborated with Guercino, a great Baroque artist, in painting the canvas that is now part of the heritage of the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa.

Guercino La Cacciata dal tempio

Jesus stands out in the composition full of characters with the most varied expressions and attitudes, while a strong, warm light enhances every detail. His forceful insertion among the merchants is highlighted not only by his gesture, but especially by the bright red of his tunic and the blue of his mantle. Colours that for centuries have symbolised royalty with red and divinity with blue. Christ’s face nevertheless retains a certain serenity and even the sellers only show a little astonishment. Certainly the artist wanted to mitigate the harshness of the moment by recognising Christ’s authority and the priority of justice and correction. The costumes of the characters do not historically correspond to the period they lived in at the time of the episode, most probably because, as was the case in the 17th century, the teaching to be received was also for the world contemporary to them .

Carl Heinrich Bloch SermoneIn another moment of his life, always rich in mercy, Jesus proposes to his listeners a perspective of great hope. It is J.H.Bloch, a Danish painter (1834/ 1890), who in the painting of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount of 1877 kept at the Museum of National History in Denmark, shows us a different attitude of Jesus. The scene takes place in the open air, a cloudless sky, a clear and terse light shows a landscape with gentle hilly slopes that widen the space surrounding the high ground on which Jesus teaches the way a Christian should follow. He speaks of the beatitudes and thus invites one to rejoice and exult because the reward will be great in the kingdom of heaven.  Christ has the attitude of the speaker who points upwards to God’s will and love of neighbour.


While in the previous episode considered, Jesus casts out and corrects the wrong attitude, here he gathers the crowds and his disciples around him to teach the tenderness of God’s mercy, which brings hope and peace to man’s heart.

It is therefore God’s mercy that saves man in whatever way it presents itself.


  • Paola Carmen Salamino


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