The commentary of the cover

Such Is the Justice of God by Pierre-Marie Dumont

Domenico Fetti (1589–1623) developed a highly colorful and original pictorial style. He devoted the end of his life to a series of works based on religious themes, notably the parables, destined to sanctify the family home. This type of artwork was very new at the time, but was the precursor of what would later become popular imagery. Fetti took all the parables at face value, ­including this parable of the lost sheep. He represented his subjects in a somewhat naïve manner, as befits. For him, one must not seek to unduly interpret the parables; they are simple stories devised by the Word to speak to simple folk. Fetti’s favored approach was to retain only the obvious, principal message; to avoid blunting the main thrust with other meanings extrapolated from incidental aspects of the narrative.

Here, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees who considered themselves righteous but, in fact, he was above all addressing sinners groaning at not being counted among the blessed of God. Through imagery, he confirms to them what Scripture had already told them: “Even should your mother abandon you, your God and Father will never abandon you, no matter how far you have wandered into sin” (cf. Is 49:15). The Father sent his beloved Son into this world in order to seek out sinners one by one and to carry them home on his shoulders to the great good joy of the Communion of Saints who awaits their return. “Yes,” Christ reveals to us through his parables, “as far as they may have strayed, I will seek them out until I find them” (cf. Lk 15:4). “It is for this that I came into the world” (cf. Lk 19:10).

Thus it is that, wherever we may have gotten lost, God seeks us out, God finds us, God brings us back.

One can understand the Pharisees’ consternation, for it is folly, this justice of God that seeks out the guilty—not to condemn them, but with the sole aim of making them escape from the punishment it should require!

The Parable of the Lost Sheep, Domenico Fetti (1589–1623), Dresden (Germany), Gemäldegalerie, Alte Meister. © Artothek / La ­Collection.