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 2:19-23)
As we head into the Advent season with hope and joy to celebrate the birth of Jesus, these dark verses describe Joseph led by angels to settle in Galilee.
Perhaps we take for granted angels guiding Joseph to safety. Yet Jesus arrived as a baby into a fallen humanity to grow up and live among us. Vulnerable and needing care and protection, Joseph protected Jesus from Herod.
Herod was an evil ruler. (In fact, it seems like it was a family business to be ruthless.) His words and actions showed violent indifference to others, lacking compassion and full of jealousy and hate. When that is the state of politics, division foments hatred and anger, destroying love and care for others, especially when those others are not like us. Unfortunately, we live in a world where Herod has not disappeared, where what is holy and sacred is under constant attack.
The angels illumined Joseph’s decisions. Maybe the light was overwhelmingly clear to guide Joseph in his choices. Is that same light present in our own lives? Do we see it, or is it drowned out by demands on our thoughts, time, and resources? Who has God entrusted to us? God’s light draws us to serve Him and love one another. Are we missing it? Are we even allowing God to show up?
In COVID times, having been disconnected from so much that fills our hearts with joy, this short scripture lesson could be a call to seek God’s light. God shows up if we open ourselves to his guidance. So let us return to be present in those places among our family, friends, community, and yes, church, which help make us who we are called to be.
Heavenly Father, we seek your light in our lives. You have endowed each one of us with skills and purpose. Please help us see and feel your presence every day to guide us in our actions, so we may care for others entrusted to us as Joseph cared for his family. Amen.