Capital: Virtues and Vices.
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Title:Capital: Virtues and Vices

Jesus dares to correct the Pharisees. His explanation of the commandments presents the audience with stricter guidelines for communal living. Though he does not use these terms, Jesus wants the Pharisees and the disciples to start thinking about vices and virtues. These vices and virtues, everyday emotions and actions, are what the commandments are concerned with because they are what can foster or breakdown communities.

One of the capitals in the Cathedral of St. Lazarus in Burgundy, France, depicts a triumphant image of (left) Charity defeating Greed and (right) Patience conquering Wrath. Such a carving would remind parishioners that evil intentions must be overcome if purity of heart and life is to prevail. (Reflect on how the virtues resemble angelic looking humans and the vices resemble demonic like creatures.) As Jesus explains, it is what comes “out” of us, words and deeds, which ultimately matter. Only right actions can overpower evil intentions and prevent defilement. The result of such true words and deeds is the fostering of kind and genuine relationships. Jesus warns them; saying, 'This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (7:6). Vices create fractures between the offender and God, and the offender and others. When virtue wins, its effect transforms not only the individual, but the community one is a member of. The pair on the right have also been interrupted as Self-Control overcoming Gluttony. -- Blair Tolbert

Building:Saint-Lazare (Cathedral : Autun, France)
Object/Function:Relief sculpture

Scripture:Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
Lectionary links:BProp17
General Subject:Sin
Virtues and Vices

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Attribution:Capital: Virtues and Vices, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved May 18, 2024]. Original source:
Record Number:54155 Last Updated: 2021-10-10 07:06:34 Record Created: 2009-01-13 09:52:36
Institution:Vanderbilt University Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition