Monday, May 11, 2009

Caravaggio and the Rest on the Flight into Egypt

I was looking at Caravaggio's Rest on the Flight into Egypt (ca. 1597). I love the picture of Mary holding the infant Jesus (even if Mary looks like she's from Ireland or perhaps Northern Italy with her red hair rather than a Middle Eastern Jewish woman). The full picture includes Joseph listening to an angel play a violin. That's part of the angel's wing in the part of the picture shown above.

The image of Mary holding Jesus in her arms as both sleep is so peaceful. At mass on Saturday I contemplated this image as I was receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. Anyone who has held a sleeping baby knows the peacefulness of the contact of flesh to flesh, of the little heart beating against your chest. You know the joy of holding someone who loves so purely, so completely. I thought about Jesus as that little baby, as the one in my hands who holds me and loves so purely, so completely.

I have also tried to reverse that image to enhance my prayer life. Jesus taught us to call God not just "our father," but "our dada" (abba). We are to become like a child, totally dependent on the one who gave us life. So I try to think of myself as a baby, being held tightly in God the Father's arms, resting, being soothed, trying to be as close to Him as I can get.

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