This painting, Madonna with Grape by Mignard, is on the cover of my parish's Missalette this season. My eye fell on it while I was waiting for Mass to begin. Although I have only a passing intellectual acquaintance with spiritual art, I found myself gazing at it, engrossed as if I were deep into a compelling mystery story.
The Mother is a real woman, sturdy, beautiful yet not necessarily "pretty", genuine, her full, tender attention on the actions of her young Son. Of all the fruits available at her elbow, she is offering him the grapes, an anticipation of the sacrifice that is to save her and us all. Jesus doesn't grab at the grapes greedily nor spurn them, but he lays his hand on them, taking possession. He reclines peacefully, protected for the moment in her arms and under her veil.
Whatever has attracted the child's attention, his mother doesn't appear to have heard or seen it. He raises the draped veil, looking out, his expression carrying a bit of "Yes? Were you speaking to me? Were you calling me?"
Is he looking at us? at his Father? It could be either, because he is Love. He loves the Father enough to live toward the Cross out of obedience; He loves us enough that the love between Him, his Father and his mother will be ours one day through the Holy Spirit, and the grapes of sacrifice will be ours too. "All in good time," he tells us. "I have come for you. Save me a place."