The Flight into Egypt, by Vittore Carpaccio (1450- 1525)
Today, Saturday, September 15, 2007 is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary had many sorrows besides the Passion and death of her dear Son and Savior. In fact, Church tradition refers to The Seven Sorrows of Mary (the first three of which involve the Child Jesus).
Let’s consider here The Second Sorrow of Mary – The Flight Into Egypt (Mt 2:13-23). More specifically, let us go back in time to the first year of Jesus’ life after His birth in Bethlehem. We recall that an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee from Bethlehem, with Mary and Jesus, to Egypt, because “Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him”.
It is likely that news from Jerusalem and Judea eventually trickled down into Egypt via trading caravans and other means. Therefore, Mary and Joseph probably learned of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents sometime during their first year in Egypt. One can almost imagine Joseph and Mary sitting in a marketplace in some unknown town in Egypt where a caravan from Israel has been detained for a period of time. Perhaps it is evening, and Mary is holding the baby Jesus in her arms while Joseph stands nearby. They are listening to news from Israel when suddenly their correspondent shows a look of dismay and recounts what Herod had done in Bethlehem – killing the male children under two years of age.
Mary’s heart is torn as she gasps in horror, realizing that it was her own baby that was the intended innocent for slaughter but that others took His place. Perhaps she turns to Joseph to give him baby Jesus so that she can hurry away and cry alone somewhere. Or maybe she instinctively grows tense, tightening her embrace of the little baby in her arms , reflexively protecting Him from evil men like Herod. Grief stricken, she goes off and weeps, her soul pierced through (Lk 2:33-35):
“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.” Mt 2:17-18
And today also, when Mary hears of what we are doing to our unborn children does she not share anew in the weeping of Rachel? Let us join with Mary too in praying for Rachel.
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