Grace: To have an intimate knowledge of the Lord, to love Him more devotedly, and to follow Him more whole-heartedly.
Text for Prayer: Mt. 2:13-23
Reflection: Exile is a terrible thing, for it means that one cannot live among one’s own people. It entails alienation and the experience of being an outsider, an Other. It brings hardship, uncertainty, and fear. All of these are likely part of the Holy Family’s experience of fleeing Bethlehem shortly after Jesus is born, and they further show the poverty of the God-man who chooses to humble Himself to be born in a manger.
From what is the Holy Family fleeing? Certain death, the extinguishing of the hope of Israel, and the loss of future glory of their nation. But more than these, they are fleeing from the possibility that God’s plan for the salvation of the world might be thwarted. At this moment in the history of the world, great forces were working against God’s plan, and while they were confounded for the time being, these forces left a stream of dead infants and wailing mothers in the Holy Family’s wake. The calls for the death of the newly-born Christ would not stop until they had achieved their aim, and so it is that Jesus’s entire life is circumscribed by the promise of His death on Calvary.
And yet, Joseph and Mary were attentive to the word of God that came to them in a dream, and so they were able to contribute to the thwarting of the plans of God’s enemies. God made use of them in their lowliness, depending upon their obedient generosity for the care and protection of His only beloved Son. The obstacles to Jesus’s fulfillment of His salvific mission here on Earth are indeed great, but God’s providence provided for His protection at the moment in His life when He was most poor and vulnerable, depending upon Joseph and Mary for everything.
Mary and Joseph, in their turn, relied entirely upon God, not knowing where their journey into exile would lead, when they might be able to return to their native land, or how the promises that had been made to them would come to be fulfilled. Without understanding fully, they trusted in God’s word and escaped the destruction that was chasing them in the land of Israel.
Questions: How do I experience fear and uncertainty in my own life? Do I put all my trust in God? What keeps me from being free to drop everything and follow God’s will? What can I do to align my own life more fully with the poor and the outcast, those who are exiles in my own life and world?