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." 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for becoming man for my salvation. Thank you for the gift of faith in this great mystery of your love and humility, which give joy and meaning to my life.
Petition: Jesus, my Savior and friend, help me to imitate the virtues that shine forth from the Holy Family!
1. Joseph, Obedient in Faith The protagonist of today’s reading is St. Joseph. This is one of his two major appearances in the Gospels: The other is his engagement to Mary and his reaction to discovering her pregnancy. The virtue that characterizes St. Joseph in both passages is obedience in faith. Joseph was called to be the father of the Son of God, the Messiah who was to fulfill all the prophecies written of him. Although he would never see the plan fulfilled in his lifetime, Joseph took the utmost care to carry out the Father’s will as it was made known to him and to lay the ground for the ministry of the Son. One false step and the fragile life of the baby Jesus would be at risk. Only God knows how much of his plan depends on us doing his will out of faith, regardless of whether or not we see the results of our fidelity!
2. Mary, Trusting Mother Mary is silent in this passage, but her silence speaks volumes. She does not protest Joseph’s decisions; she is entirely trusting in his discernment of God’s will. She is not jealous of the way God has revealed aspects of his plan to Joseph and not to her. From her own experience she knows that God works in each soul at different times and for his own reasons and that he uses human mediators to make his plan known. Often God will work in our own lives through other people. We are part of the Body of Christ, the Church; we cannot rely exclusively on our own judgment and insight all the time. We need to trust in the human instruments that God places in our lives. We need to learn to recognize his voice when he speaks to us through those around us, whether they be our pastor, friend, child or spouse.
3. Jesus, Vulnerable for Our Sake Jesus has just been born, and he is as weak and vulnerable as any infant. The devil knows this, and he seizes the opportunity to attack Jesus through Herod’s unbridled cruelty. Thanks to Mary and Joseph, the baby Jesus escapes, but many innocent children die in his place. If angels have emotions, the devil must have been filled with rage and frustration! Might this have something to do with the spread of the legalization of abortion in the world today, which perhaps can only be understood as “diabolical”? An abortive culture turns the mother-child relationship into the exact opposite of that seen in the Holy Family. Such a deficiency of love can be conquered only by an excess of love: prayer and commitment to defend the most vulnerable and defenseless.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, every person in the Holy Family lived the virtues they needed in order to fulfill their mission in life, but love was their ultimate motivation. I want to love like that! Strengthen my love for you and for every human being because of you! Help me to discern your will for me. Help me to have the strength to live the virtues that my mission, whatever it may be, requires.
Resolution: Today I will make a special effort to be humble and to be open to God’s will, made known to me in prayer and through those around me.