Matthew 2:13-18 –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 to 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 have 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.”
It is all well and good to speak of carrying the Light of the Child of Bethlehem into the world when life feels good all around us. But what about times of great sadness and tragedy as in the death of a child to illness or abuse or accident? Or when a young father is senselessly murdered or a mother of young children dies of cancer? What about the travesties of terrorism? Isn’t it then that we cry out angrily and ask how a loving God could allow such horrors against his people? And then we wonder, how can we possibly proclaim the Good News when some things are just not good or fair?
When Joseph fled in the night with Mary and the Baby Jesus because an angel had warned him of Herod’s designs on the life of the child, they were surely extremely fearful. Most likely, during their trek to Egypt they heard the unbearable news: Herod’s men went door to door throughout Bethlehem and the entire region, in search of any boy under the age of two in order to kill them and give assurance to Herod of his throne. Surely Joseph and Mary were conflicted. God warned them but not the others. Their child was safe, the others gone. How could this be?
I don’t think that just because they knew their child was the long awaited Messiah that they were able to continue on their journey and on with their lives. I think they trusted God implicitly, which was already proven in Mary’s fiat and Joseph’s taking her as his wife. That trust gave them courage and strength to carry on and to live a life worthy of parenting the Only Begotten Son of God.
We still might ask, “What kind of God is this?” And then we must remind ourselves of Truth: What kind of god? The kind who proved his unfathomable Love by allowing His Only Child to pay with his life for the sins of all – those created in his image. He made a way for us to choose to live with him forever, because his Son’s death and subsequent resurrection, demolished sin and death. This kind of God loves us that much. It’s so important that we keep this eternal perspective in times of strife and anguish, or we will lose all hope. And if we lose hope, we have really lost life itself.
St. Joseph and Mary Mother of God continued to trust God in the face of horrific circumstances, in order that the world would see Jesus, as they raised him. Life is not always easy. In fact, life can be downright unbearable at times. Jesus was with St. Joseph and His Mother when the innocents were sacrificed. He was with them through many times of anguish, as he is with us. Because our hope is in him, like Mary and Joseph, even in times of suffering we are able to greet each day with that hope. And we are able to proclaim with our lives the Good News that the Kingdom of God is at hand.