Sunday, January 2, 2011
Long Way Home
Now after the wise men 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 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 died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child's life are dead." Then Joseph got up, 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 there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He will be called a Nazorean." Matthew 2:13-15,19-23
When I was a young woman in college, I work for a time in a day care. I loved working with the kids, most of them from poor, inner city families, and I loved to play and read to them. Our favorite book was "Marvin K. Mooney". It is a Dr. Seuss classic, in which Marvin is being sent on a journey - any way possible. " I don't care how, Marvin K. Mooney will you please go now!" was the recurring tag line. The kids loved to scram the line when we got to it. Marvin was forcible being sent away, on a journey that was contrary to his life and plans. We often face these times in our lives when our best laid plans are interrupted, undone or sent on long delays. We bristle and grouch about it, and yet we all know the experience. And some time these altered plans have unknown benefits, wonderful learnings and sometimes save our lives.
The parents of the small child Jesus, aching to go home and be surrounded by family and friends, are warned to go home another way. They end up in a foreign land, maybe among distant relatives, at best, delayed and maybe even wondering about God's plan and God's timing in their lives. It wasn't what they wanted. Like them, we find our delays and diversions make us frustrated, and we can question whether God is really guiding and acting in our lives. The child Jesus lived because of the diversion but his parents paid a hefty price of loneliness, dislocation and being distrusted illegal aliens in Egypt. They must have wondered, at night, alone with their thoughts, "Is this isolation going to last forever?"
In the midst of our dislocation and frustrations of the day, I want to remember that God is truly in the midst of us. If the Holy Family can live with them, might we all be encouraged to see these change of plans as God's protection rather than abandonment? Today, I want to remember that every change of plans is a chance to grow and to trust God ever more.