Sunday, December 6, 2020


8"x10" Oil on Panel

For Rejoice! Advent Meditations with the Holy Family

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Have you ever been wrongfully judged by someone? It can be quite a hurtful experience. This week's painting explores the emotions, frustrations, and sacrifices the Holy Family may have endured during Mary's pregnancy. Nazareth was a small town, and anybody who lives in one knows that small towns are notorious for people knowing too much about each other's business. Mary and Joseph were expecting a baby before their marriage was consummated. You can just imagine the scandal that news created for them. I'm sure there was plenty of rumor and judgement buzzing around town. The incarnation of the Word was not all angels and Glorias. It was complicated, messy, and scandalous. 


In the painting, Mary and Joseph are walking along a Nazareth street as they begin to notice the stares for others. People are literally "talking about them behind their backs." A woman shelters her child and keeps their distance from the couple. One passer-by confronts Joseph by locking eyes with him. Joseph responds with protective body language. And Mary looks ahead to see unknown onlookers—perhaps even us. At first glance, the scene is a nice stroll on on sunny day, but you soon begin to see how all of that judgement and social shaming begins to darken the day.


Today, through the contributions of internet and social media, it seems the world is acting much like a small town. Rumors spread quickly. Judgement and shaming are pervasive, emboldened with a sense of anonymity. We have become so quick to judge and shame others without knowing their full story. The saying "You don't know me" is very true. We have no idea, the stresses and nuances that are going on in other people's lives. Only Christ has walked in our shoes and knows our hearts. And Christ died for us and rose for us.


Mother Teresa once said, "If you judge people, you leave no time to love them." Perhaps we can learn from the Holy Family. Perhaps we can start loving our neighbors more—even as Paul puts it, "To outdo one another with acts of love."


As we prepare for Christmas, may we search our thoughts and feelings. May we be more sensitive to the experiences of others. May we make time to love each other, and in so doing, make room in our hearts for Emmanuel.

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