The Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey capture a moment in time when the Holy Family is in a vulnerable position. An angel has appeared to Joseph, warning him to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath (see Matt. 2:13). Joseph and Mary begin the journey to Egypt where there is no guarantee that life will be easy.
The Benedictine Sisters use color and light to draw our eyes to baby Jesus, wrapped in white cloth and surrounded by a circle of light. The light touches Mary and Joseph, connecting them all. Jesus sleeps peacefully — a stark contrast to the chaos of the world he has been born into. The colors in the painting become darker around the edges, a reminder that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it” (Jn. 1:5, NRSV).
Mary’s red garment could symbolize passion or devotion. It could also foreshadow the sacrificial love of Christ. Her eyes are closed. Maybe in prayer? Maybe in rest? Perhaps both. Her priority is Jesus’ safety and well-being, and she is likely weary from caring for an infant. The green of Joseph’s cloak — representing hope, freedom, and new life — emphasizes the new life Jesus’ birth makes possible for him and his family and for the world. Joseph gazes upward in hope as he looks toward the future.
As we look to another year with expectation, what do you hope the future holds for you, your loved ones, your community, and the world? What do you want to leave behind? What invitation for new life is Jesus offering you?
Cover art courtesy of The Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey ©1999 The Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey and McCrimmon Publishing Co. Ltd. Prints of cover art are available from www.mccrimmons.com or email@example.com.