Sunday, December 29
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.
When Herod had died, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel,
for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”
He rose, took the child and his mother,
and went to the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea
in place of his father Herod,
he was afraid to go back there.
And because he had been warned in a dream,
he departed for the region of Galilee.
He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,
so that what had been spoken through the prophets
might be fulfilled,
He shall be called a Nazorean.
Biblical archaeology is fascinating precisely because the Bible does not eschew naming precise dates, geography, or important political figures. While erstwhile doubters may opine that ‘the best lie always contains 95% truth,” they cannot deny that the Old and New Testaments are never afraid to contextualize their events in real time and space. Scholars can squabble whether a shrine or church is built over the precise GPS coordinates of an event in David or Jesus’ life, but in the end, pilgrims to the Holy Land can visit actual geographical sites that stretch back to antiquity.
We don’t take seriously people who have no “skin in the game,” who are content to be armchair quarterbacks or anonymous Internet critics. But in the Incarnation, we realize that we have a serious God, who has literally put skin in the game, that the person of the Son not only got his hands dirty, but his head and back bloodied. The Jewish-Christian Scriptures reveal a God who works not in some mythological realm or some primordial ‘land-before-time,’ but rather continually in real historical time and identifiable geographical space.
Let us not doubt that God can intervene in the troubles and circumstances of our own lives in the “here and now”– for He has long experience in unfolding His salvific plan even in the midst of the evil people and tumultuous events of our world’s long recorded history.
-Fr. Matthew Morris