Grace: an intimate knowledge of our Lord, Who has become man for me, that I may love Him more and follow Him more closely.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 2:13-23
Reflection: We were visited by our king, but did we know him?
Today we pray with Mt 2:13-23, the flight into Egypt. Upon first encountering the story, we mark the obvious connections to Exodus. In the background of our memory is the story of Moses and the Israelites, exiled in a foreign land under the oppressive hand of Pharoah. Israel was God’s helpless child, weakest among all the nations of the world. Yet God chose it and called it out of its place of humiliation in order that it might be a light to the nations. The oppression of outsiders could not thwart the power of God.
Yet how much more poignant is the Flight into Egypt because here Jesus is hounded, not by Egyptians, but by his own people, by the king who is supposed to be his earthly ruler. Wailing and lamentation sound from Israel at the depth of the cruelty. And that is how it has been throughout history to the present day. We, Christ’s own people, exile him anew everyday because he lives in each person who suffers at our hands.
God eventually calls His Son out of Egypt. Before advancing to the resolution, however, we should allow ourselves to linger with the Holy Family on the road to Egypt. The prospect before them seemed little less dire than the certain death which awaited them at home: would they meet the end of their days in an Egyptian wilderness? Would there be nobody to remember them and carry on their memory? Unlike Rachel, whose grave near Bethlehem preserved her life in the memory of her descendents, would the Holy Family sink into anonymous demise like so many through history? It is only when we look squarely into the prospect of this destiny that we understand the true poverty of Christ our King. And it is only then that we begin to understand the radical nature of the trust that God asks us to place in Him.
Perhaps to form your memory and direct your emotions, listen to a recording of the Coventry Carol, one of the most mournful songs we hear at Christmastide. It is based upon the Flight into Egypt. Journey along the path with the Holy Family and feel the uncertainty which follows them. Doesn’t this uncertainty make their trust stand out all the more forcefully? Compare the plight of the Holy Family in comparison to all the other innocent men, women, and children who have been driven from their homes throughout history. Finally, allow yourself to be confronted by the Providence of God, which leads us through death into life.
Questions: Where am I experienceing difficulty trusting God’s Providence? Where have I experienced Providence in the past? Where has God brought good out of difficulties in my life? How does Christ get exiled in my world today?