Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mary's Second Sorrow: The Flight into Egypt

"But when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying, 'Arise and take the child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and remain there until I tell thee. For Herod will seek the child to destroy him.' So he arose and took the child and mother by night, and withdrew into Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod..." 
 - Gospel of St. Matthew 2.13 - 15

Within weeks of the birth of her Son, the Blessed Mother receives two messages that foretell agony: she learns of the sword that will pierce her heart, and now she receives the message from the Magi that Herod, the king of Judea, an Idumean, wants her son dead, and now she must flee through the wilderness to a new place that isn't home, in fear for the life of her child. 

The burden on Mary must have been excessive. She is given the grace of being the Mother of God-Made-Flesh, and, as any mother, she must keep him safe. But now, for the first few years of her son's life, she is robbed of the security of hearth and home. Her husband, St. Joseph, must bundle them all up and spirit them away in the dead of night.

What doubts must have plagued the Blessed Mother, who was most likely still a very young woman at this point, probably still a teenager. God, who made her a promise, now seems to take it away. This precious life given to her is being threatened. Everything that she knew and trusted were slipping out from under her. 

But it is in these dark moments that we can see why she was the one chosen for this task. She submits humbly to God's will, the echoes of her first act of obedience still reverberating, even to our century: "Let it be done to me according to His will." We see no record of her complaining, or fighting, or resisting God's will in this matter. She and St. Joseph, given the order, take up their entire lives, pack it onto the back of a donkey, and flee to that country most hateful to the memory of Jews: Egypt. 

How many times, Lord, when given to know Your will, I have chosen to follow my own, because the path You have laid out seems too hard, or dangerous, or not to my liking? Give me the grace to humbly submit to Your will, Lord, knowing that it is part of the grander plan in the movement of the universe.

I grieve for Thee, O Mary most sorrowful, in the anguish of Thy most affectionate heart during the flight into Egypt and Thy sojourn there. Dear Mother obtain for me the virtue of generosity, especially towards the poor, and the Gift of Piety.

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