The painting shows Mary breastfeeding the year old Jesus who has just “unlatched” from her breast to peer up at St. Joseph who is protectively peering back. Meanwhile the Virgin is intently looking down to the toddler St. John the Baptist who has shown up standing to proclaim “Ecce Agnus Die” (Behold the Lamb of God).
I believe this image teaches us to see that St. Joseph is entrusted with the role of the Eternal Father on Earth. Therefore the Messiah is enthralled as he gazes into Joseph’s heart. Joseph humbly accepts his role and lovingly finds his identity in the Divine Infant. Mary is allowing this while she intently gazes on the cousin of Jesus who has come to remember what Mary first brought him, the Holy Spirit, sanctifying him in the womb! So he exclaims the truth about Jesus and Mary affirms him with her patient eyes.
I choose to place myself in the place of the Baptist who bears that universal name of the disciples of Jesus: “Beloved” I gaze into Mary’s eyes who first interceded for me at my baptism to receive the Holy Spirit adopting me into her family. This universal mother is teaching me to pray OUR Father as Jesus sends it all perfectly into the Father of Mercy, the beginning and the end, my origin. St. Joseph has received this phenomenal gift of a wide open generous heart that protects and translates the eternal Father’s blueprints – “Divine Providence”.
Isn't it wonderful to be Catholic?