Today, upon the Nativity of Mary, a meditation by Bishop Earl Boyea upon the second of her sorrows: The Holy Family’s flight into Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15). Ave Maria! He says:
Herod did not take well to competition. So, Joseph took Mary and the baby, Jesus, into Egypt to escape (Matthew 2:13-15). Egypt had been a place of escape for others. Jeroboam, who would become the first ruler of the Northern Kingdom of Israel had to escape to Egypt when Solomon heard about this treason; Jeroboam stayed in Egypt until Solomon died (I Kings 11: 40). Perhaps, Mary had thought that the sorrows she would bear would wait for many years into the future. Such was not to be the case. In fact, here she, and Joseph, were bearing the sufferings which Jesus himself probably did not really experience—exile.
There are many stories about Jesus’ time growing up in Egypt, but nothing is recorded in the Bible. St. Matthew cites a text from the Prophet Hosea: “When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son” (Hosea 11:1). Jesus, like his ancestors, was to make an exodus from Egypt back to the Promised Land. He was to go before all of us, both in his youth and later in his death and resurrection. Mary, no doubt, pondered over all this. The temporary promised land for this family was to be Nazareth due to other dangers when they returned to Palestine (Matthew 2:19-23).
This child was not to be spared the sufferings of the servant of God even in his youth. Mary probably had hoped that those sorrows would be delayed for many years. Even though Mary did not have to weep as did Rachel for her children, still she could see the writing on the wall and her own heart was fully engaged in that mystery of suffering which was always just around the corner (see Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18).
Sisters and brothers, Psalm 131 reminds us that we are to depend upon God alone, that our plans are best lived when they are God’s plans for us: “Lord, my heart is not proud…I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me. Rather, I have stilled my soul, like a weaned child to its mother, weaned is my soul. Israel, hope in the Lord, now and forever.” Mary was learning this lesson everyday of her life.