This large tempera on wood, also called Pala Strozzi, was painted in 1423 by renowned artist Gentile da Fabriano, at that time much sought after. The work was commissioned by a wealthy banker and intellectual Palla Strozzi for the family chapel in the church of Santa Trinita. This is one of the greatest masterpieces of international gothic style, with its elegant and fairy tale atmosphere and figures in sophisticated poses. The Adoration of the Magi theme was common since it allowed to hint at the economic prosperity and cultural superiority of who commissioned the work. The procession of the Magi fills the whole composition and is a chance to flaunt plushy clothes and golden decorations. Behind the three Magi we can recognize the portrait of Palla Strozzi in the man with the falcon. The sumptuous clothes of the characters, the refined harnesses of the horses, the description of the landscape and the even more magnificent carved wood frame make this work a veritable masterpiece.
See more at http://stlukesguild.tumblr.com/post/61976101611/gentile-da-fabriano
More about Adoration of the Magi at: http://christianiconography.info/magi.html
Within the gospel of Matthew, the first righteous character we encounter is Joseph. Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt prior to Gabriel’s appearance and announcement? Prior to the angel’s visit, the only explanation for Mary’s pregnancy was adultery. Yet Joseph does not wish to punish Mary and make her suffer public shame. He had chosen to end their engagement quietly. He had every right to submit her to public condemnation, even stoning. But being in the right – acting within one’s rights – is not necessarily right. Rightness and righteousness are not one in the same.
Do you have an unresolved disagreement with someone? You feel confident you were in the right… and perhaps you were. But how’s that working for you? We don’t experience much peace in the midst of a stalemate. This week, if you have any unresolved disagreements, reach out to the other person with a note or an email. Ignore the issue of right or wrong and simply let them know that you would like to clear the air and be reconciled. Let them know that you value your relationship more than the issue over which you disagree.
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Submission isn’t a very popular practice. As human creatures, we often try to control our own destinies. Submitting, surrendering to someone else seems like a sign of weakness. But in this young girl Mary, we discover the strength in submitting and surrendering to God’s purposes. In ancient Palestine, being a young girl pregnant out of wedlock would have placed Mary in a vulnerable and precarious position. Even so, Mary responds to the angel, “Let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). With those words, the grace of God found a home within Mary’s womb.
Do you have a chore or task you particularly resent doing? Perhaps you bristle when your spouse or boss remind (in your mind, “nag”) you about it. This week, as your complete the task or chore, consider it an opportunity to practice submission. Consider how the grace of God might be experienced through you if you carry out this humble task with an attitude of joy and gratitude.
How have you met the grace challenge this week? Leave a comment with your story and/or picture below or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
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