Identifying with the Exiled

Matthew  2:  19-23.

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.’

And he rose and took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.   But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’

What does this passage show us?

We know that  the Holy Family were refugees and life for refugees is never a comfortable and secure life….we wonder what it  was like for them, were they able to meet up and have dealings with/ be looked out for by Egyptians ?   We live in a world with so many refugees stuck in unsavoury camps, struggling to move into safer countries, prepared to die to get to the country of their choice.    When we think of them, do we remember Jesus as a refugee and his words “what you do unto others, you do unto me.”

My family have to give thanks to those who helped us as we had to flee from Austria in 1939, those who had given information where you could get visas, gets papers stamped, a family in Finsbury Park who gave us a room.  A huge struggle and trauma for my parents told not to speak German in the house. A time of not knowing what was happening to those loved ones they had left behind. But we were spared from terrors others suffered, dying, becoming slaves.

We remember that Egypt was cited in the Old Testament as a place where the people of Israel had become slaves.   God used Moses as his instrument to free them and show his Love and his Power.  The people Moses led out of Egypt did not fulfil God’s wishes for them, they wavered in their Faith.    Was Matthew in his Gospel suggesting  that Jesus coming out of Egypt was there to grow and  to fulfil God’s wishes for his people  like Moses?    Are we able to follow Jesus, to make Love the over riding action towards God and others and not fail Him?  the glamour of the crib still lights us up outside and inside St. Mary’s but soon we must acknowledge the hard work we must do to keep building our understanding of the Incarnation, honouring God’s Gift to us – Himself on earth, guiding us to the Reality of Spirit, Reverence for all beings, Reincarnation – the straight path of Faith.   Richard Rohr reminds us daily in his writings that contemplation of the Divine needs also to lead to action in the World, to allow God’s Will to be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.   What is our part in this?  Do we do enough?

Joseph did enough.   He led his family to safety. We have heard from others about Joseph’s deeds in protecting Mary and, guided by the Angel and his dreams,  keeping her secure.   Joseph a  caring father, wanting to keep Jesus safe;  a man who obeys God and believes in his messengers, the angels.  We must give Joseph thanks for what he did and for providing for them through his work as a carpenter.    It was tough for him travelling long distances with a wife and baby, his best laid plans were scuppered because of the cruelty of Herod’s son.    He had to re-route the map to keep safe and keep as far from Bethlehem as he could, returning  perhaps unwillingly, to his hometown, Nazareth in Galilee.     The reason for this may be one thing I learnt from this study –  that Nazareth was a place that was badly thought of; “a place for people who were “despised and rejected ”  In the new Testament Nathaneal stated “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?  So early on,  Jesus is associated with an area that is looked down upon.  Prophecy of old told of Nazareth and this was now fulfilled when Jesus is referred to as a Nazarene.  

how many of us  have presumptions about people and where they come from?   It is easy to lump people together rather than seeing them as individuals, each with something to offer, as Jesus taught us.  This hurt is shown to us through the Black Lives Matter movement, people’s wounds are being shared.  We are seeing how the covid virus is rampant in areas of poverty and overcrowding bringing this plight to public gaze.    Will the homeless put up in temporary shelters because of covid, be pushed back out onto the streets?

This passage of Scripture brings us many things to pray for –  for Fathers and their important role and we pray for all children who do not have a caring father but may they know that they can turn to You, O Lord.

For those struggling  because they have no work and are bowed down with worries.

for refugees:

Our beloved Father,

look down with mercy on all refugees.

Remember your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,

having to flee to Egypt when he was a baby, with his mother Mary and with Joseph.

His return journey was not straightforward but

You guided them.

Help us to be aware of the fears, anxiety, pain, sorrow, difficulties and uncertainty all refugees suffer

as they try to make a home and try to fit in……

for all worried about their livelihood and their health,

Inspire us to remember that we all belong to the same human family whatever colour, creed, status we are in the world.

Holy Spirit, give us compassion and courage

to help each other in any way we can.


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