Mary in Scripture 5

The Holy Family are exiled in Egypt


Exiled in Egypt by René de los Reyes, 2021


Matthew has a different twist from Luke to the nativity. In Matthew it’s Joseph rather than Mary who dreams of angels bringing messages from God. After the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem the holy family are forced to flee for safety to Egypt. They spend some time, maybe two or three years, as refugees there. They return to their own country on the death of Herod. However, rather than stay in Bethlehem they decide it’s safer to move up north to Nazareth.
We don’t hear anything about their time in Egypt, but presumably like any refugees, they have difficulty learning the language and customs of this foreign land with its ancient but very different culture from that of Israel. Imagine a young, newly married couple with a new baby forced out of their own country and all the people they know, trying to make their way alone in a foreign land.

Consider those who are refugees today; how should they be treated?


Preparation: Begin by stilling; then dedicating the time of prayer to God and asking God that all you think, feel and imagine are for the glory of God. 

Gift:  Ask for what you desire.  You may wish to share in the uncertainties and concerns of the holy family and understand how they survived.

Setting:  Imagine you are a character in this story; perhaps Mary or Joseph travelling from Bethlehem to Egypt and then trying to be accepted and earn a living in this new country.

Matthew 1:7-15 NRSVE

Then Herod secretly called the wise men, and learned from them exactly what time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child. When you have found him, bring me word, so that I also may come and worship him.”

They, having heard the king, went their way; and behold, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them until it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.  They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country another way.

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”

He arose and took the young child and his mother by night and departed into Egypt,  and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Hosea 11:1

Conversation: When you have finished imagining the scene and you have spent time in quiet contemplation, take a little time to talk to Jesus, Mary or Joseph as a friend about whatever comes to you. Imagine how they might reply.

Final Prayer: End with a formal prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father or Hail Mary.


The Music is Schubert’s Ave Maria sung by ‘Libera’

More sacred music sung by Libera choir on Amazon UK

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