As a mother of an infant, I kind adore this picture. What can I say? Yes, it’s not the best-executed artwork of all time and in many ways the brush strokes are very simplistic. And yet, it is great. Let me explain…
As related in Luke 2:22-40, Jesus’ parents bring the infant Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer the typical sacrifice of two turtle doves after taking care of the infant Jesus. In the picture, they look exhausted, and who knows? Maybe they were exhausted. Taking care of an infant, while it definitely has its rewarding moments, can be utterly exhausting, especially after traveling. The journey to Nazareth to Jerusalem was probably not the easiest one, especially with a tiny baby to take care of! And then, almost all at once, they are confronted by two people — Simeon and Anna. And then Mary and Joseph’s world turn upside down.
Anna is thrilled to meet the child while Simeon, with his wild hair, embraces the child and prophesies, giving Mary, our Blessed Mother, the first hint that she will suffer greatly because of the child, yet rejoices all the same.
I don’t know about you, but if I were Mary, I am not sure what I would think. To hear that my child, the baby that I’ve been tending and spending my every waking moment caring for would be a cause for deep suffering? I am not sure if I would want to hear that.
Yet, in the picture, her features are complacent. Despite all these surprises, both she and Joseph are focused on performing their duty as is required by the Lord by bringing Jesus to the Temple to be consecrated to the Lord, no matter what life brings them.
And that parental duty of bringing children to the Lord, no matter what happens, is not easy to do, not by a long shot. The Good Lord knows that I spent a good portion of last Sunday at mass getting whacked in the face by my 13-month-old, who has just discovered how fun it is to hit people. Sometimes, it can be hard to even think of our efforts as anything significant, especially when everything seems to go wrong.
And yet, here is a picture of the Holy Family together, the parents content to do their duty to God, no matter what the cost.
And, in the end, perhaps that is the most important thing for us to do as parents — to do our duty and bring our children to the Lord.
Help us parents have the strength to bring our children and their needs in front of Christ so that they may know and love You and You may know and love them. Guide our families and help us live in Your Truth. We ask this through Christ our Lord.