“The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities” by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
"Murillo, The Heavenly and Earthly Trinities, about 1675-1682 Photo © The National Gallery, London”.
Four things of importance to note in this painting by Murillo. God in Heaven is looking down and blessing the Holy Family. Jesus responds to His Father by looking up to Heaven. Mary is looking at Jesus and perhaps thinking about the Son of God saving the world; whilst Joseph is looking at us, significant this, inviting us to join in the Holy Family.
Not much is known about Jesus’ childhood. The Bible records the story of His birth in Bethlehem and the early days of His life but not much more.
We are left to wonder what He was like as a baby. Crawling on the ground and then taking His first hesitant steps. I wonder what His first words were when He spoke.
One thing for sure though. He was much loved by His earthly parents, who devoted themselves to His up-bringing, until He was ready to start His work on earth as His Father willed.
Like most parents, they must have wished many good things for Him as He grew up, even though they knew who He really was and what His mission in this world was to be.
Mary, however, carried an additional burden in her heart. She knew from those early days what was to happen. Simeon in the temple had told her: “… sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart”. Luke 2:35. Joseph was there to witness it all.
Can you imagine what they went through as parents? Knowing of the torture and Crucifixion which Christ would suffer.
And Mary, endured that pain even more as she followed her Son on the way to Calvary.
Yet … despite all that. Despite knowing well ahead what was to happen, despite witnessing the Crucifixion for herself, one thing must have sustained Mary and encouraged her throughout her ordeal: the sure knowledge that Jesus was/is the Son of God and that He will rise again from the dead.
That thought alone should help us when we too go through difficult times. No matter how difficult our situation we should hold on to the fact that our Lord, the one we profess to love and follow, is the Son of God. By His death and Resurrection He has conquered evil once and for all.
And no matter what our situation may be, we can assuredly turn to Mary, and seek her help in bearing the difficulties we go through.