Journey into the New Year

In my last blog I invited us to walk with the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt.  Let’s continue with Matthew’s post-Christmas journey, which is often called the flight of Holy Family.  It is well that we remember that God entered this world in a helpless baby as a part of a refugee family. The story of Christmas continues with the guidance from God.  And just maybe this is the second significant lesson we might gain from the return of the Holy family.  The story continues with an angel again guiding them.  “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.” (Matthew 2:19-21) Think about it for a moment.  The cardinal conviction of Christmas is that God is with us.  The entire story, the celebration of the season, hangs on this stupendous conviction.  The Bible tells us that God continues be with us.  To be sure God is present in the baby Jesus but just as well God is present in the guidance which comes through the angel.  As life returns slowly back to normal.  Faith would lead us to be receptive to God’s guidance in our lives.  Christmas is over, but it isn’t over at all.  The presence of God in the world guiding the Holy Family and us as well continues. Come with me now to the close of a story that is over, but not over.  This close of the story is an invitation to journey into the New Year.  “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 2:22-23) “Aristotle said boldly that God is not a bungling dramatist, who lets irrelevancies slip, for no reason, into the plot.  Everything in it is there for some end; and before the curtain falls, will be seen to have had its own necessary part to play in the unfolding of the story, in the working out of the predestine plan.” (Original source unknown) Here the story comes to a close with our twin themes of obedience and guidance ever present.  The strange and circuitous return of the holy family ends with settling in Nazareth to fulfill the prophesy.  Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus set up a normal life like regular people – all under the watchful unfolding of God’s divine plan.  If we would learn nothing else this day, let us reflect in awe that God is in charge.  The Christmas story will continue playing itself out to the cross and beyond under the divine guidance of a God who is finally in charge. Fate is blind, inescapable and an impersonal course of human life – without reason or purpose.  Destiny implies what the word means - that there is a destination, a point or purpose to the venture.  We are a people of destiny not fate; we people of faith not happenstance; we are people of purpose not aimless wandering.  The return of the Holy Family happens in such a way as to invite us to return to our families or own regular lives trusting that when all is said and done, God is in charge.  It is this truth that allows us to journey with hope, faith and yes, love into the New Year – “The Year of Our Lord 2014.”