The Christ Child, A Refugee

“When the magi had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, 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 and destroy him.'” Matthew 2:13

The Holy Family was much like any other family. Mary and Joseph had just celebrated the birth of Jesus. How joyful it must have been when the wise men came to worship the Christ child, bringing gifts to celebrate His birth. Yet, as all families, this joy gave way to worry and fear. How did Joseph and Mary feel when they were directed by God’s angel to leave their homeland and escape with their small child to a land foreign to them? What is apparent in Matthew’s story is the fact the Holy Family became refugees. Christ, God’s son, was a refugee seeking asylum in a foreign land to avoid persecution.

How timely is Matthew’s biblical story today? As Benedictines and Christians, what does this story mean to us? For me, it prompts the following questions. As a Benedictine, do I recognize the plight of refugees? Am I able to see the “face of Christ” in all persons regardless of race, social backgrounds, religion or country of origin? Do I model Benedictine hospitality to those less fortunate than myself?

St. Benedict instructed in the Rule to to receive guests with charity and humility. Esther de Waal, a well-known Benedictine, asks us two essential questions: Did we see Christ in them? Did they see Christ in us? These are simple, yet profound, questions for us to ponder in this new year.

Yes, the Holy Family was much like all families. Life filled with joys, sorrows and challenges. Let us hope in the new year we, as Benedictines, live our values for the world to witness blessing our families with Christ’s truth and light.

Blessings in the new year.

Mary Baier, OblSB