Out of Egypt I Have Called You

I was reflecting on  the Gospel from today's reading (Matthew 2:13-18):

The Flight into Egypt , 1500 by Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1520)

The Flight into Egypt, 1500 by Vittore Carpaccio (1465-1520)

Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, 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.” Then Joseph[a] got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
    wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.

I recognized that some of the characters in this story have analogs in my life:

  • Joseph: I am Joseph, obviously.
  • The Magi: These are the people who help me recognize the goodness that is in me, the goodness that I often forget. They bestow on me the gifts of hope, comfort, and perspective.
  • The angel of the Lord: This is my guardian angel, that inner voice that gives me consolation.
  • Herod: This is the voice of my ego--that demonic voice that wants to feel important and superior. It is the voice that tells me when I should feel insulted, when I have been offended, and when I deserve recompense.
  • The child and mother: This probably needs no explanation, but the child is the Christ in me, that is, the person who God imagines me to be; the mother is my willingness to follow God's will.
  • Egypt: This is the place where I preserve my innocence. That is, it is that place in my heart where I feel safe and secure enough to be innocent--that is, the place where I am childlike.

I asked myself, "Where is my Egypt?" In other words, where do I preserve the innocent child in me, the part of me that is not scarred by bitterness, cynicism, and hate? How do I foster the curiosity, wonder, and trust that seems so natural to children?

Imagination is my Egypt. Whether it's stimulated by reading a book, writing a poem, or daydreaming, I realize that when I let my imagination soar, I make space where the virtues I associate with Christ--humility, charity, generosity, and purity--can grow. Whenever I use my imagination, I open my mind to the could be of God, that is, the God who makes all things possible (see Luke 1:37). In that place, I make a place for the Christ child to be born and grow in me.

Take a few moments and find your Egypt. What are the times and places when you feel free from bitterness, cynicism, and hate? Where are the places where you feel peaceful and whole? What are the obstacles the prevent you from finding that place? What prevents you from carrying that place with you in your heart?