As the Holy Family leaves the lush security of their homeland, for the dry, harsh unknown of Egypt, Joseph leads and protects the Holy Family. Staff in hand, guiding the donkey, he looks back at his bride and the miracle of the God-Man nestled in her arms. His face is in turns filled with love, concern, determination, and sorrow (the Flight into Egypt is one of the Seven Sorrows of Mary). He wears the brown of humility and poverty (and the color of carpentry) and green for his fidelity to God.
Mary nurtures and serves our Lord with great simplicity and devotion. Depending on how you look at her, her face is sorrowing, or unconcerned, or a half smile tugs at one side of her mouth, Her only concentration is on Jesus, trusting fully in Joseph to guide them to safety. She lifts the handkerchief, ready to wipe any snot off the face of Jesus. She wears red symbolizing Jesus’ future death on the Cross, and her participation in His sufferings as His Mother and the New Eve, and blue for Heaven, grace, and her royalty as Queen of Heaven. It also symbolizes her humanity being covered in the Divinity of God as He condescended to her womb.
Jesus leans in on Mary’s chest, absolutely unconcerned about anything. Though He is God, from the moment of His conception, He is fully Man as well. In both He is in complete in trust of His earthly parents to take care of Him and His Heavenly Father to ensure their safety.
Nature itself converges on the Living God. The clouds arching down on Mary and Jesus, the grass on the left leaning far over, while the grass on the right is almost pulled back in response to their Creator.
Painted as a commission by a couple as model of marriage, Joseph leads and protects the Holy Family, while Mary nurtures and protects the Child Jesus. In the union of both, the Child is secure and is protected from the dangers of this world. In the Flight into Egypt we can learn so much of the will of God for family life.
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