The Gospel of Matthew

This devotional is written by Isla Van-Tricht. Isla has been attending St Mary's since 2017. She loves theatre, cheese, whisky, St Mary's Youth and her dog, Boy George.

Matthew 2:13-23

The Escape to Egypt

13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

The Return to Nazareth

 19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."

21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Reflection

I recently moved not only from one flat to another but from one city to another and I can confirm that moving is no fun. In fact, everyone kept telling me (when I complained to them of my moving woes) that moving house is frequently rated in the top three most stressful life experiences in the Western world. However, in the situation documented in this passage, Joseph is asked to uproot his family, including new-born baby Jesus, not once but twice. And to add to the stress and strain of moving with a young child, the reason they are compelled to move is to escape the very real threat of their son being murdered by the ruler of the land they’re in. This unimaginable horror reminds me – as much of the Christmas story does – of the current plight of refugees fleeing from Syria for example.  But we learn that each of these relocations, whilst clearly necessary to escape real danger, is also to fulfil prophecies from the scriptures to point to the Jewish people that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. 
Therefore, I think what sticks out to me most in this passage is the fulfilment of God’s plan in the midst of what seems, to the earthly eye, to be a situation only of danger, fear and chaos. Coming to the end of this year I find myself reflecting on the moments throughout 2020 that have been characterised by a feeling of danger, fear and chaos and in returning to these moments in hindsight I am trying to discern God’s plan and how it has unfolded in my life this year – trusting that God has been working all things together for my good, as part of a greater plan.

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