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Cebu Daily News - - OPINION - by Simeon Dum­dum,Jr.

Ihad a bas-re­lief of the Holy Fam­ily in my of­fice, hung on a shelf that stood in front of my ta­ble.

Friends gave us this holy ob­ject. Even so, I would al­ways find means to ac­quire a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the Holy Fam­ily. A statue of the young Je­sus to­gether with Mary and Joseph was among the first re­li­gious fig­ures that I ever saw. And, like the madeleine that as a child Proust dipped into his tea, they evoke past worlds, which more of­ten that not reap­pear in mem­ory wrapped in beauty and in­no­cence.

Such was the world of the Holy Fam­ily. Luke tells us that the Child Je­sus went down to Nazareth with Joseph and Mary, "and was obe­di­ent to them," and there "grew in wis­dom and stature, and in fa­vor with God and men."

Peter Paul Rubens presents Je­sus and John the Bap­tist as in­fants in a crib to­gether, un­der the watch­ful eyes of Mary, Joseph and El­iz­a­beth. The il­lu­mi­na­tion falls mostly on Mary and the two ba­bies, and just mut­edly on Joseph and El­iz­a­beth. Raphael de­picts the Child Je­sus play­ing with a lamb while Mary and Joseph – bald­ish and lean­ing on his staff – talk to him. As there in the work of Rubens, as well as of Michelan­gelo and the oth­ers, here Mary wears a red tu­nic. In iconol­ogy, red sym­bol­izes youth, beauty, love.

Rubens, Raphael and Michelan­gelo and the oth­ers give us styl-

ized de­pic­tions of the Holy Fam­ily – done in a grand, rich and ex­u­ber­ant man­ner. It seems to me that they use an other-worldly light, per­haps in con­so­nance with the sub­jects of their paint­ings.

We yearn to be with God and jour­ney to­wards an­other home - a higher, truer place - and yet God wants to be here with us, has in fact come to live with us in the sham­bles that is this world. Hence, the jour­ney is done in­side the house, within its rooms, among the fur­ni­ture, the ta­bles and chairs, the walls lined with books, the pi­ano, the chest of draw­ers, in­side the kitchen and din­ing room, among the china and the sil­ver. The jour­ney is a re­ces­sion into the in­ner­most places, through the home and its rooms, to the heart. And in this Nazareth shows us the way.

The thought of Je­sus, Mary and Joseph go­ing about their du­ties in their hum­ble dwelling, spend­ing day af­ter day to­gether in mu­tual as­sis­tance and fruit­ful ac­tiv­ity and con­stant prayer in­spires me to value ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion in the house, and ev­ery move­ment, and pause, as well as the si­lence that em­braces ev­ery fam­ily mem­ber and house­hold ar­ti­cle, a si­lence that lis­tens, in which at night, af­ter the words have been said and trea­sured, the ta­ble has been cleared, the last cup put back in its place, as we go to bed and a small dog barks in the dis­tance, we rest – in the words of a writer - on the prom­ises, we lean on the ev­er­last­ing arms.

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