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20. A Holy Family Portrait

This Dutch/Flemish Renaissance nativity painting depicts a more private scene than many artistic representations of the Lord’s birth. A very young looking Mary kneels by her newborn. She seems to be slipping off her own cozy cloak, perhaps to wrap Him against the cold night air. At a slight distance, a balding and monkish (and much older) Joseph stands next to an ox and holds a candle to the scene.

I’m struck by the feeble appearance of the infant Christ in this nativity painting. How remarkable that the Lord of all creation, the very Son of God, would take on the frail human form to enter our world and give His own life to save us from ourselves.

That’s the Christmas miracle – Emmanuel, the Lord with us.

Nativity, by Hans Memling, c1470

Note: This nativity painting is believed to have been created as part of a triptych, perhaps originally designed to adorn a church. 

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