“After the wise men left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Hurry! Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,’ ‘Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ That night, under cover of darkness, Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death.”
Basically this is a story of refugees, of a family forced to leave their country, their town, their friends, their career, their daily life–everything that makes life seem secure– and become exiles, displaced persons, homeless. Due to the threat of King Herod, the Holy Family were victims of violence from the moment of our Savior’s birth! Joseph did not rage against the injustice which Herod inflicted on his family, but he trusted God and responded in a nonviolent way.
Rather than the sentimental scene of the Flight into Egypt normally portrayed in paintings, imagine what it must have been like for the new family… very poor, exhausted and dirty from traveling, hot during the day and cold at night, rain or shine, Mary gathering what little strength she had just to breastfeed her child.
Where is rest? Where is protection? Do we trust in God’s love as Mary and Joseph did? Will we imitate their faith journey? Another question we could ask is: Am I so different from Herod? Are there times when I am so afraid of losing power and control, that my response is one of anger or insecurity?
Catholic social teaching challenges us to help those who seek asylum, are fleeing war, persecution, injustice or intolerance. Millions of people today parallel the experience of the Holy Family in their Flight into Egypt. Our advocacy and prayer can help ensure a more humane and just treatment of refugees. The Holy Family’s example can mean so much to those who have likewise had to flee for their lives in today’s world.