Image: The Flight Into Egypt. James B Janknegt, 2008 (20 x 16 inches, oil on canvas)
Matthew 2:13-20 [The Message] After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.”
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”
Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he’d gotten from the scholars.)
That’s when Jeremiah’s sermon was fulfilled: “A sound was heard in Ramah, weeping and much lament. Rachel weeping for her children, Rachel refusing all solace, Her children gone, dead and buried.”
Later, when Herod died, God’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt: “Up, take the child and his mother and return to Israel. All those out to murder the child are dead.”
Reflection: While Christmas Day is past, the season of Christmas runs for 12 days until January 6 which is Epiphany (the appearing). In the Church calendar this is when we remember the appearing of Jesus in the world, and the wise ones who welcomed him.
Jesus’ birth brought great joy, and great sadness. Perhaps thousands, of babies died because of his birth. Light and darkness mixed. Life is rarely black and white. It more often occupies some shadowy shade between.
Ritual: As you light and relight your Christ and Advent candles this week, pray for those who suffer through no fault of their own, particularly women and children.
“In this strange season when we are suspended between realization and expectation, may we be found honest about the darkness, more perceptive of the light.” Jack Boozer
(Source, Mark Pierson, World Vision New Zealand)