Jesus gazes up with Mary and places his hand on her heart while pointing to His own – he points out that the love Mary has for God comes from God Himself. He Himself inspires the love.
Mary gazes down at Jesus, bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh, but 100% completely God as well. She is completely at peace, receiving the love of God. She points to Jesus, as she always does, drawing us away from herself and towards the action of God.
Joseph gazes on with pure love and adoration. He’s the protector of the Holy Family, but also distinctly he’s neither God, nor God’s most perfect creation, conceived without sin: Mary. So Joseph is balanced to the side, and takes on our place when meditating on the Incarnation.
The Incarnation is such a big event. God became Man. He came through the Virgin as it was foretold, the vessel he created and preserved from all sin, inspiring a love that kept Mary choosing God over any temptation to sin every moment of her life. She is the new Eve to Jesus’ new Adam. Books upon books have been written about it, paintings and poems and songs have all tried to understand it.
It’s a massive mystery.
Joseph probably was just in awe at God being present physically and the sheer beauty of two souls completely without sin.
But look where he is. He’s right there. He protects the Holy Family and could be distant, removed, or hovering over, but he’s side by side in the mystery.
It’s where we’re called to be.
It’s this balance I’ve never seen in art before. It was beautiful to get to paint it.
This is one of 12 paintings for the Ascension Press program “What We Believe” found here.
As part of the program I worked closely with the team to come up with each composition.
If you’re wondering why Mary is wearing opposite colors it’s because the writer is a Byzantine Catholic and we brought in some of the beautiful roots of Byzantine iconography into several of these prints.
In Byzantine iconography, Mary wears blue and is clothed in red because her humanity (red) covered the divinity (blue) of Jesus in her womb. While Jesus (when depicted as an adult) wears red and is clothed in blue because his humanity is clothed in his Divinity.
In Western art, Mary wears red for her humanity that is clothed in the blue divine graces she has received as being the Mother of God. But interestingly, Jesus wears the same colors as iconography – if He and Mary appear together, she has a more pink than red dress.