The angel of the Lord sent Joseph, Mary, and Jesus to Egypt for safety, and acting out of faith they did as the angel instructed. There’s a lesson for us all in Matthew 2:13-18.
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
“Out of Egypt I called my son“.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.”
What can we personally take away from this passage from Matthew? Perhaps it is to try to relate to how much a struggle this was for the Holy Family. We all have struggles. At many times in our lives, we are called on to do things that are contrary to our natural inclinations, yet we must cross a line and make a decision. For Joseph, it was to believe in his dream, in the command given him by the angel of the Lord to flee to Egypt. For Mary, it was to trust in her new husband and remember the assurances given her by the angel of the Lord about the future of her new son. For both, it was to trust God to protect them in this radical change of course, leaving all that they knew to escape persecution and protect their son.
We aren’t the Holy Family. We haven’t been visited by the angel of the Lord. But the Lord has assured us in the Gospels that we are in His care when we have faith. It’s sometimes hard to have faith, especially when we face horrible danger or difficulty. Perhaps what we can take from this passage is the example of faith and action shown by the Holy Family. They trusted God. Often in the Gospels Jesus cures or brings back to life people who have shown great faith or whose families have shown great faith. He also shows compassion for those sinners who show faith and repentance.
Life can seem like a journey, crossing borders we are sometimes reluctant to cross but are forced to by circumstance. It is by having faith – trusting God – that we find our way back across those borders to safety. God is compassionate and merciful, full of love. With that love, there is nothing we cannot accomplish. It just requires our faith. Then we, too, can be called back “out of Egypt.”