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Nine Lessons for Christmas


8.     The Return from Egypt

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A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew.


When Herod had died,

behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt

and said,

“Rise, take the child and his mother

  and go to the land of Israel,

  for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

He rose, 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 back there.

And because he had been warned in a dream,

he departed for the region of Galilee.

He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth,

so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled,

“He shall be called a Nazorean.”


                                                                                                                                                                                                                               MT 2:19-23



Lesson 8


Matthew sees Jesus in Nazareth as consistent with God’s plan


For those who sought the child’s life are dead: Moses, who had fled from Egypt because the Pharaoh sought to kill him (see Exodus 2:15), was told to return there, “for all the men who sought your life are dead” (Exodus 4:19).


With the agreement of the emperor Augustus, Archelaus received half of his father’s kingdom, including Judea, after Herod’s death. He had the title “ethnarch” (i.e., “ruler of a nation”) and reigned from 4 B.C. to A.D. 6.


Nazareth…he shall be called a Nazorean: the tradition of Jesus’ residence in Nazareth was firmly established, and Matthew sees it as being in accordance with the foreannounced plan of God.  The town of Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, and no such prophecy can be found there.  The vague expression “through the prophets” may be due to Matthew’s seeing a connection between Nazareth and certain texts in which there are words with a remote similarity to the name of that town. Some such Old Testament texts are Isaiah 11:1 where the Davidic king of the future is called “a bud” (nēser) that shall blossom from the roots of Jesse, and Judges 13:5, 7 where Samson, the future deliverer of Israel from the Philistines, is called one who shall be consecrated (a nāzîr) to God.




Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we made in your image, conform ourselves to it.  In our own strength we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder nor is it fitting for us to try.  But Your mercy reaches from the heavens through the clouds to the earth below.  You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of eternal love.