Out of Egypt
Matthew 2:13–15, 19–23
By Fr Gabriel Julien
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. As we continue to reflect on the Gospel according to Matthew 2:15 he states that: “I have called my son out of Egypt”. In doing so Matthew tries to vividly recall the deep relationship that God had with the nation of Israel.
God loved Israel (Ex 4: 22–23) and rescued them from slavery bringing them into the promised land. Hence scripture presents the image that God is Father and Israel the child.
Within this context Matthew 2:13–15 states that: “When they departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, rise, 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 and he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet; out of Egypt I called my son”.
Matthew uses the statement of Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son”, to explicitly highlight that the coming of the Messiah is an extension of the overwhelming love that the Lord has for His people. Although Matthew does not clearly mention that when he uses Hosea 11:1, he had Jesus in mind.
Instead, he states that the experience of Jesus clearly matched what Hosea had written about Israel. Thus, Jesus, the Son of God, made a journey from Egypt to the land of Israel.
In this way Matthew also shows that Jesus completed and fulfilled the entire ‘Exodus experience’, carefully connecting Jesus with the promise of Abraham and the leadership of Moses. Hence the verse: “I have called my son out of Egypt”, demonstrates that this action although it commenced in the past was completed with the coming of Christ.
One can also make the connection that this passage tries to reenact the history of the infant Jesus. For example, Jesus goes to stay in Egypt for a time during His infancy, to escape danger of death. Israel also went to Egypt and thus history repeated itself in the life of the child Jesus.
Both Jesus and Israel were at the mercy of a devious king: Pharaoh sought to destroy all the newborn boys of Israel, and centuries later Herod attempted the same. These actions seek to magnify our understanding of the greatness of Almighty God.
Similarly, the child Moses, was saved from the murderous designs of the king of Egypt. Jesus did not return from Egypt until Herod had died, and afterwards He was brought back to safety in Nazareth, where He remained. “I have called my son out of Egypt”.
Lord, we admit that we are still very far from realising our goal like the Holy Family. Just as You protected the Holy Family, we ask that You open wide the gates of Heaven and send forth the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit upon every family in this nation.
Father with your Son, Jesus we ask You to constantly bless our families. Father in your overwhelming love we ask You to remove all distraction, violence and harm that endanger family life. Help us to genuinely follow the virtues and values of the Holy Family. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
The gospel meditations for December were by Fr Gabriel Julien, a diocesan priest.