Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jesus ~ Child Refugee




As soon as the wise men had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, and said, Rise up, take with thee the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt; there remain, until I give thee word. For Herod will soon be making search for the child to destroy him. He rose up therefore, while it was still night, and took the child and his mother with him, and withdrew into Egypt, where he remained until the death of Herod, in fulfillment of the word which the Lord spoke by his prophet, I called my son out of Egypt.
Meanwhile, when he found that the wise men had played him false, Herod was angry beyond measure; he sent and made away with all the male children in Bethlehem and in all its neighborhood, of two years old and less, reckoning the time by the careful inquiry which he had made of the wise men. It was then that the word spoken by the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled; A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation and great mourning; it was Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted, because none is left.
But as soon as Herod was dead, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in Egypt in a dream, and said, Rise up, take with thee the child and his mother, and return to the land of Israel; for  those who sought the child's life are dead. (Matthew 2: 13-20)

I met a young Egyptian woman one Easter night, who at the end of the Vigil said she was angry and embarrassed by the Passover story which portrayed the Egyptians as the en-slavers and murderers of the Jews. It had never occurred to me how an Egyptian might feel about that story. I wish I knew where to find her today, to remind her that it was Egypt which so generously opened itself to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, saving Jesus from certain death. What a model for today!


A power-obsessed leader, jealous of a baby's royal title, was looking to kill the infant, and an angel warned Joseph how and where to find safety. In the tender image here (look again closely) perhaps painted on a parchment, it looks as if the family is crossing the border into the Date Palm land of Egypt. There is no indication in art or gospel page that anyone asked them, "Are you legal?"

We're basically a Christian country, so we're supposed to know this bible story. The problem with religion is when its adherents don't make connections. And when we don't make life-connections many people observe that disconnect  and say, "Why bother." 

Someone wrote recently, "Do you have a word of wisdom about the children at the southern border?" I don't have a personal word, just this Gospel-account which I believe is all we need. Egypt took in Joseph's family which was in trouble. Someone might say, "Yeah, well they were one family, we've got thousands crossing over." 

Joseph, Mary and her Infant (which we call the Holy Family) are a sign for us. The story encourages us to have hope, that children can survive in the scary world that too often doesn't consider their protection. Pray our country would do better by them. 

A burly man, carried a sign as he blocked the road to a busload of Central American children being taken to a processing center. The sign read, "Jesus would obey the law." No, he wouldn't. He'd remember the story his Mother told him - of how Egypt took them in when Herod wanted him dead.

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