El Greco’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz: Stewardship that Transcends Time

El Greco The Burial of the Count of Orgaz
The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

El Greco was a Greek iconographer who moved to Italy where he was immersed in Italian renaissance. He sorts of merged his training and experience as an iconographer with contemporary principles of European renaissance and something beautiful, new and unique emerged. Unfortunately, his art was not appreciated much during his lifetime, until the 20th century when Picasso noticed and highlighted the immense importance of El Greco art. He spent his life moving from town to town and without much luck trying to find a patron who commissioned him to create a painting.

Eventually he was commissioned to create an altarpiece about a local legend. The result El Greco’s famous painting known as “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz”. The church was very particular about characters, and how they had to be depicted. Contract was signed. He worked for two years. Results were unexpected. Real life characters of his time, contemporary members of that church and parish, characters wearing clothing and vestments common for El Greco’s time not the time but not typical of the legend. It is as if El Greco wants to show that this steward’s act of charity for his parish transcends time and space. It is as real and relevant for contemporary parishioners as it was for the historical figures who witnessed the actual event.

Think about it for a second. There is a profound message in this. Everything we can possibly buy, get, gift and receive has an expiration date. Everything in the material world we live in, everything we work so hard to obtain eventually erodes, disintegrates and fades away. The act of love, charity, stewardship and commitment to causes to truly believe in are both timeless and priceless.

Christ when completed his earthly ministry he did not leave his followers alone. He left them with the Holy Spirit and the church which replaces his physical absence from each. Any act of stewardship, anytime we give our time, talent or treasure to church is really an offering to the body of Christ, the church. That gift is as timeless as Christ’s own offering and ultimate act of stewardship and love when He gave everything he had; his own life for us.

An act of stewardship is priceless and timeless because no matter how big or small our gifts of time, talent or treasure is for our parish our church we are really only planting a seed in the vineyard of the Lord. We trust and we believe that he is going to nurture, care and grow our offering and use it for healing, mending broken hearts and souls, for talking to our kids through Sunday School, for empowering the ministries of our parish.