Matthew 2:13-15 (NRSV): The Escape to Egypt
13 Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
Today, we are in the midst of an interregnum of sorts, that time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. For some of us this means time off from work, or at least that work slows down a bit as things wrap up for the year (unless we are working to meet year-end deadlines) and for our school-aged and college kids, this week can also mean time off from school.
Taking a break from our ‘normal’ lives can be good for us, as it can be a healthy respite from our routine. For Jesus and his family, however, it was crucial for them to get away! In today’s Gospel, the young family, already uprooted from their home in Nazareth, became refugees who were forced to go into Egypt in order to stay safe in the face of Herod’s threats. However, this time away had some benefits, as during their time in Egypt the family continued to grow and to grow closer, and Jesus learned about life: what it meant to be a son, and a brother, as well as the values of his Jewish faith. We know that this learning happened, for we are told that while returning from Egypt, Jesus slipped away from the group and was later found in a nearby temple, both learning and teaching as he discussed matters of faith with the priests and elders gathered there.
This story tells us that the small family found their time in Egypt to not only be a safety but also a time of healing, restoration and renewal. The story also speaks of how much Jesus was loved by his family, how they were willing to leave everything in order to keep him safe, and that his parents worried about and cared for Jesus, teaching him well, even in the face of hardships! Reminding us that we never really get a ‘break’ from being parents…even if our children are not always with us, even when they are grown, we will always be parents!
During this week, when the year is winding down, and life may not seem so ‘normal’ for us due to vacations, family-time and visitation, we can take advantage of this time between the holidays. If we are with our children we can enjoy our time with them through reconnecting, finding fun activities, working on a project together, or even just watching a movie or enjoying a meal. If we are separated from our kids, we can spend this time working on ourselves, helping others, and reconnecting with our friends, faith and interests we may have put aside for the sake of raising our children.
This can be a great week for us to learn, to rest and to restore…but it can also be a difficult week for us, a time of tension with family members were are simply spending too much time with or of loneliness because our children are away with their other parent for the holidays. This can also lead to resentment and to frustration, which can wear us down. This is why it is so important to remember to take care of ourselves, to keep close to God in prayer, and to have others to talk to when things get rough, when others get on our nerves, or when we make mistakes.
When our lives feel overwhelming it is not a bad thing for us to take time off, retreat to our own “Egypt” whether it is time away from work and worry, or taking some time away from our children and family.
Our ‘time in Egypt’ can a great time of learning and growth, as well as an opportunity to reconnect with our loved ones, and restore ourselves, a time to be treasured…for while we never really do get a ‘break’ from being a parent (especially a single one) our days are not just filled with tasks to be completed, and responsibilities to be met, but with the hope and love we share with our children, which is a reflection of the love that God has for us, as we are all children of God, and will soon find ourselves back to the routine of our lives, as we continue our journey of single parenting into the new year!!
Let us Pray:
Dear God, thank you for these times when we can step out of the routine of our lives, for holidays that give us the opportunity to rest, recharge and reconnect! Help us to take this time and enjoy the great gift of love you have given us, a gift that is reflected in the love we share with our children and those closest to us! Please see us through our own time in Egypt, and let us always remember that even if the traveling gets rough, that you are always walking with us.