At sunset

At sunset

Sign from Heaven. Leaven of Pharisees.

(The Gospel History, Section 69)

But he answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say it will be fair weather: for the heaven is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the heaven is red and lowring. Ye know how to discern the face of the heaven; but ye cannot discern the signs of the times. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek a sign? An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign: verily I say unto you, there shall no sign be given unto this generation, but the sign of Jonah. And he left them, and again entering into the boat, departed to the other side.

The Crucifixion, by Fra Angelico

At sunset

(The Saviour of the World, Vol IV, Book III, Poem XLI)

As Christ and His twelve step from the boat, show they
Large, luminous, impressive ’gainst sombre skies,
As men in sunset glow take values on
And, monumental, stand. The heavens glowed,
Gennesaret shewed, a sea incarnadined,—
Half heaven was red—as though some wounded god
(Hap, victim of Diana’s certain aim)
Lay bleeding through the years till crimson flood
Spread wide as vault of heaven and reddened earth:—

Lo, here, a sign: did any save Messias
Perceive ensanguined sign of Christ, His blood,
Shed since the foundation of the world and now,
For the cleansing of the nations? With heavy sigh,
Outworn with weight of their infidelity,
He spake: “At even when the sky is red,
Fair weather, say ye, we shall have; at morn,
Ye see a red and low’ring sky; foul days,
Predict ye then with certainty. The skies,
Ye know to read; learn the signs of the times:
Soon shall a blood-red sea wash the world’s shores;
A night shall follow, black; and, lo,—’tis fair:
The Sun of righteousness goes on His way
And all the world’s illumined—but not you!
A dark and low’ring morn for you shall break,
Burnings and fuel of fire, and blood—not Mine
Shall quench the light of day. Why seek a sign?
The times be full of signs could ye but read.”

Scarce finished had He these so ominous words,
When sudden a dread vision rose before
The Saviour’s presaging eye: against red sky,
(That sky of blood, Angelico, Brother Blessed,
With pigments fixed on consecrated wall),
Three lone shapes hang,—and One, the Son of Man!
Did the agony of all those awful hours,
Of Buried nights and days, fall on His soul?—
“An evil generation and unclean
Seek at My hand a sign; no sign is for them
But that of the prophet Jonah, for three days,
Entombed in a fish’s belly.”

He left them then

Oppressed with weariness for the monstrous weight
Of the hard, obdurate hearts He came to lift:
And took they boat to go to th’ other side.

How doth the city solitary sit,
So full of people once! A widow, she;
Once, great among the nations, now in thrall:
She weepeth in the night, her tears run free,
The ways of Zion mourn, her proud priests sigh,
Her virgins grieve, she lies in bitterness,—
City and people, they who asked a sign,
Nor knew to read that writing on their wall
Writ by the Son of Man who came to save!

Behold and see if there be any sorrow
Like unto My sorrow!

St. Matthew xvi. 2-4.
St. Mark viii. 12, 13.