My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS BORN! GLORIFY HIM! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΓΕΝΝΑΤΑΙ, ΔΟΞΑΣΑΤΕ.
A NARRATIVE OF THE MOST PURE VIRGIN MARY'S FLIGHT INTO EGYPT WITH THE NEWBORN DIVINE CHILD
[Compiled from the Gospel, the Holy Fathers, and other trustworthy sources.]
After the Wise Men left Bethlehem, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and instructed him to flee to Egypt with the newborn Babe, Jesus Christ, and His Mother, the Most Pure Virgin Mary. The Angel told Joseph to remain in that country until he received the command to return, for Herod intended to "seek the young Child, to destroy Him (St. Matthew Chapter 2). Joseph arose, and "took the young Child and His Mother by night, and departed into Egypt," but before leaving the country, he fulfilled in the Temple of Solomon everything commanded by the Law of the Lord; for the days of the purification of the immaculate and blameless Mother of God were drawing to an end. In the Temple of Jerusalem, the Lord was met by the elder Symeon and Anna the prophetess. After accomplishing everything required, Joseph and Mary went to their house in Nazareth, as Saint Luke says: "And when they had performed all things according to the Law of the Lord, they returned unto Galilee, to their own city Nazareth" (St. Luke, Chapter 2). From this it is evident that they did not go directly from Bethlehem to Egypt, but first to the Lord's Temple, then to Nazareth, and only afterwards to Egypt. In his Explanation of the Holy Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Saint Theophylact writes: "How is it that Luke says that after the Lord was born, forty days passed, and then He was held in Symeon's arms, and went to Nazareth; while Matthew tells us that the Lord went to Nazareth after returning from Egypt? Understand that Luke speaks about things on which Matthew is silent. Luke says that after birth, the forty days passed; then the Lord went to Nazareth. Matthew tells us what happened afterwards: that He fled into Egypt, then returned from there to Nazareth. They do not contradict one another. Luke informs us of the journey from Bethlehem to Nazareth, Matthew of the return from Egypt to Nazareth, which took place later..."
While Joseph, the Most Pure Virgin, and the Divine Infant were journeying to Egypt, robbers stopped them in the desert, with the intention of stealing the donkey that carried their meager belongings, and at times, the Mother and Child. One of the thieves, noticing how beautiful was the Babe, marveled, exclaiming, "If God were to assume flesh, He could not be fairer than this Child!" Whereupon, he forbade his companions to harm the travelers.
At this Most Pure Theotokos assured the robber, "One day this Infant will reward you richly for having protected Him." That thief was the very same one crucified with Christ, to whom the Lord said, "Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise" (St. Luke, Chapter 23). With his death, the Mother of God's prophecy was fulfilled, and the robber received his rich reward.
After arriving in Egypt, the travelers found themselves in the Thebaid, approaching Hermopolis. Near the gates of the city, there was a very beautiful tree called "Persea," which, on account of its imposing height, the idolatrous people worshipped as a god, offering it sacrifices (Nicephorus, Bk. 10, Ch. 31; The Synopsis of George Kedrinus). When the immaculate Mother of God and the Divine Infant drew near this tree, it began to tremble violently, and the demon who dwelt within it fled. Then the tree bent over so far its top touched the ground, thus proffering its Creator the adoration that was His due, and showing its respect for His Mother, the Most Pure Virgin. The Holy travelers stopped to rest beneath it, sheltering themselves from the sun in its abundant shade. The tree thereafter remained bent, as a testimony to Christ-God's flight into Egypt, and its leaves acquired the power to heal all diseases. Later, the Lord, with Mary and Joseph, entered the city, and the first heathen temple they approached, with the idols in the building, came crashing down.
The Most Pure Mother of God and Christ remained for some time in Egypt, but it is uncertain exactly how long. Saint Epiphanius asserts that it was for two years, Nicephorus for three, George Kedrinus for five. Others, such as Ammonius of Alexandria, believe it was for seven years. In any case, they did not leave until Herod's death, as the Gospel says: "They were there until the death of Herod" (St. Matthew, Chapter 2). After the massacre of the innocents (children) in Bethlehem, the wretched king perished miserably, and the Angel appeared again to Joseph in a dream, commanding him to return to the land of Israel, since they were "dead which sought the young Child's life." Joseph departed with the Child and His Mother for Judea, the largest and most important division of Israel, "but when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there". (The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"
With sincere agape in His Divine Birth,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God