Flight

Scripture Reading

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 had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, 
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother, 
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea 
in place of his father Herod, 
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream, 
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled, 
He shall be called a Nazorean.
(Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23)

 

Scripture Study

2:13 Rise, take the child: God works within the structures of the family: Joseph is instructed by the angel because he is the head of the Holy Family and the one most responsible for their well-being (cf. Eph 5:21–6:3). Egypt: A frequent place of refuge in the OT (Gen 12:10; 46:4; 1 Kings 11:40; Jer 26:21) and the location of large Jewish colonies (Alexandria and Elephantine) during NT times.

2:15 Out of Egypt: A quotation from Hos 11:1. Matthew anticipates its fulfillment in 2:21. ● Hosea 11:1 points back to the Exodus, where God’s “first-born son” (Ex 4:22), Israel, was delivered from slavery under the oppressive Pharaoh. Matthew sees this text also pointing forward, when Jesus, the eternal first-born Son (Rom 8:29), is delivered from the tyrant Herod and later brought out of Egypt (2:21) (CCC 530).

2:22 Archelaus: Son of Herod the Great. After Herod’s death, the Roman emperor Augustus divided his kingdom among his three sons. Archelaus was given the title “ethnarch” of Judea, Idumea, and Samaria. He quickly acquired a reputation like his father’s, governing with a ruthless and heavy hand. He was eventually banished by Augustus to Gaul in a.d. 6. Joseph took Mary and the Child north to the district of Galilee, where Archelaus’ younger brother, Herod Antipas, ruled as tetrarch until a.d. 39.

2:23 Nazareth: An obscure Galilean village nowhere mentioned in the OT. It was insignificant in the eyes of many Jews (cf. Jn 1:46). He shall be called a Nazarene: No OT prophecy corresponds to this exact wording. Matthew apparently paraphrases the message of several prophets into a summary statement about the Messiah. ● The paraphrase is based on a word association between Jesus’ home of Nazareth and the Hebrew word netser, translated as “branch” in Is 11:1. Isaiah used the image of a branch growing from a stump to signify hope for the kingdom of David. The great Davidic tree (dynasty) had been cut off since the Exile, but the sprouting branch indicated that God would raise up another king from the hopeless situation. Later prophets used this same image to signify the Messiah-king (Jer 23:5, 33:14–16) who would build the Temple (Zech 3:8, 6:11–13).[1]

Scripture Reflection

In today’s Gospel we see Joseph receiving the Lord’s direction for his care of Mary and Jesus. Joseph listens to God’s word in a dream. Dreams play a very interesting role in the Bible. In the Old Testament Joseph is an interpreter of dreams and successfully reads the dream of Pharaoh; the wise men in the New Testament are redirected to their homeland because an angel appeared to them in a dream. In one of the psalms, we find this line: “even at night, he directs my heart.”

What does it mean that Joseph is willing to listen to the wisdom of a dream? It means that he is willing to go beyond the strictures of the rational mind. Not repudiating them, but going beyond them, thinking in new ways, entertaining unexpected possibilities, plumbing deeper and richer dimensions of his soul. When Joseph and Mary bring the infant Jesus into the temple, therefore, we are meant to appreciate that the prophecy of Ezekiel is being fulfilled. The glory of Yahweh is returning to his favorite dwelling. And this is precisely what Simeon sees.

Are we stymied sometimes because we cannot think out of the box? We can’t expect the impossible? We can’t dream? And is our openness to God’s direction not dependent upon just this capacity? That God becomes one of us in order to save us from our sins. Who would ever even consider this possibility? What an absurdity! Only dreamers.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 9-11.