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Gospel of Matthew – chap. 2, vers. 19-23 – Return of the family of Jesus to Nazareth

Pietro_lombardo_e_aiuti,_diciotto_storie_di_cristo,_1495-1510_ca._18_ritorno_dall'egittoBut when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

By now it is clear that Joseph is a man in deep contact with himself. A man who has now found its role in the world, his true mission. His mission is to preserve the virgin and child. Everything is symbolic in this affair. The historical features of the characters in question – Joseph, Mary and Jesus – are now irrecoverable. We simply have to rely on Matthew’s account. Even the stay of Jesus in Egypt is completely contained in the distant past. Instead, what the characters symbolize is still alive.

Mary is virgin also in the sense that she represents the pure and crystalline source from which comes every true experience of God. It is the possibility of birth (or discovery) of the God, the one who lives within us, and that for years and years we have confused with the ideas or images of him have been built over the centuries. These images are good and legitimate, but they represent the very experience of God made by others. Joseph is the guardian of this rebirth, i.e. all those people or life situations that favor this birth. Jesus is the rebirth itself, the God that lives within us but which encroaches into eternity.

Joseph, through dreams, came into contact with this eternity of God living in him and there he found the guidance and direction of his life. Trusting the messages and insights that came up from this profound dimension, he has been able to read more deeply the reality, thus finding in it the signs and clues to figure out what to do. We don’t know if he wanted to stay in Egypt, or what work has done to support himself and his family. However, it is likely that at some point, he began to feel he had to start from there, to go back to the homeland from which he had hastily fled from the persecution of Herod.

The escape is always a temporary solution. In certain situations it is the only way to continue to live or to defend their ideals, what is considered the most important thing for themselves and for the people we love. When you flee sooner or later you have to come back, because nothing of the place or situation from which you had departed was negative and unbearable. The circumstances had made the situation negative. But you must wait for the right time. Herod must die. The external conditions that favor the inner rebirth, the beginning of new life, the purpose of life that we have finally discovered must restore.

But Herod was succeeded by Archaelaus who was a cruel king too. It’s no illusion. Conditions and ideal situations in which to live and realize your dreams don’t exist. There is no ideal condition in which the inner child, our true identity can develop and radiate our life and that of others. In fact, if we wait ideal conditions, we wouldn’t do anything good in life. The power and strength to realize our dreams come from our inner child and even from our children, looking every day at their eyes. From there comes from the strength to go back to Nazareth, discovering that the place where we live is not so bad!

Simone Venturini

Scrittore

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