GOSPEL READING: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, 20 “Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in Place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
Meditation: Like all godly Jewish parents, Joseph and Mary raised the child Jesus in the reverence and wisdom of the Lord. Joseph was given a unique task as the guardian and protector of Mary and of Jesus. What can we learn from the example and witness of Joseph? Joseph is a man of God, a man of unquestioning obedience and willing service. He is a man of prayer and a man of God’s word. Through faith he recognized the hand of God in the mystery of the Incarnation – the Son of God taking on flesh as the son of the virgin Mary.
Joseph is a man of action, diligent in the care of his family and ready to do the Lord’s bidding. Joseph fearlessly set aside his own plans when God called him to “take to the road” and to leave his familiar surroundings – his home, friends and relatives, and the security of his livelihood in order to pursue a hidden mission God entrusted to him as the guardian of the newborn King.
God has a plan for each one of us. With the plan God gives grace and the assurance of his guiding hand and care. Do you trust your heavenly Father for his plan for your life? Are you willing to sacrifice your own plans for the sake of God’s plan? Are you willing to give God unquestioning service and to pursue whatever mission he gives you?
Lord Jesus, make me a faithful servant of your word and guardian of your truth. Help me to obey you willingly, like Joseph and Mary, with unquestioning trust and with joyful hope.
1 Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
4 Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.
5 The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!
6 May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The holy family flees to Egypt, by John Chrysostom, 547-407 A.D.
“But why was the Christ child sent into Egypt? The text makes this clear: he was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son’ (Hosea 11:1). From that point onward we see that the hope of salvation would be proclaimed to the whole world. Babylon and Egypt represent the whole world. Even when they were engulfed in ungodliness, God signified that he intended to correct and amend both Babylon and Egypt. God wanted humanity to expect his bounteous gifts the world over. So he called from Babylon the wise men and sent to Egypt the holy family.
“Besides what I have said, there is another lesson also to be learned, which tends powerfully toward true self-constraint in us. We are warned from the beginning to look out for temptations and plots. And we see this even when he came in swaddling clothes. Thus you see even at his birth a tyrant raging, a flight ensuing and a departure beyond the border. For it was because of no crime that his family was exiled into the land of Egypt.
“Similarly, you yourself need not be troubled if you are suffering countless dangers. Do not expect to be celebrated or crowned promptly for your troubles. Instead you may keep in mind the long-suffering example of the mother of the Child, bearing all things nobly, knowing that such a fugitive life is consistent with the ordering of spiritual things. You are sharing the kind of labor Mary herself shared. So did the magi. They both were willing to retire secretly in the humiliating role of fugitive.” (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 8.2)