Holding Fruit

On the surface, this looks like a typical Holy Family portrait made in 17th century Europe! It was very common for artists then to put still lifes into their pictures, putting fruit and other objects into the scene. For example, in this picture, a fruit bowl is right next to the Holy Family!

But, this picture kind of made my jaw drop. Look at what Christ holds in His hands!

The Holy Family, by Jacques Stella, c. 17th century. Private collection.

He’s holding an apple!

It recalls the fall of mankind and reinforces Mary’s role as the New Eve and Jesus’s role as the New Adam.

With Eve, she was denied the forbidden fruit, commonly translated as apple… but she and her husband, Adam, took it anyway, which knocked them out of paradise. Why? Because they deliberately disobeyed God’s commandment and took the apple anyway!

But! In this picture, Christ is holding the apple! Honestly, I can’t tell whether He is holding the apple away from His parents or giving it to them. I keep on going back and forth on that.

Yet, in the picture, there is a sense that, whatever is going on, everything is rightly ordered. Mary and Joseph are calm and focusing on Jesus in a loving way. Jesus seems to be in love and at ease with them in a completely trusting way that only infants really can be. Yes, there is an apple in the mix, but Jesus has got it under control — everything is all right.

Which reminds me that, no matter what is happening in my life right now (and, honestly, there’s a lot going on right now!) that God has got it in control. And all I have to do is follow Him.

 

Questions to Ponder:
  • Look closely at the picture! Does Jesus seem to be giving the apple to Mary or keeping it away from her? What are the implications for both situations?
  • Look at the expressions of everyone. What do you think is going through their minds right now?
  • Have you ever had that moment in which, even though things were chaotic, you still felt certain that God had things under control?

 

Dear Jesus,

Help keep our lives rightly ordered by helping us gaze on You.

Amen.

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