Rest on the Flight to Egypt

We who are nervous and anxious about many things can learn from the Holy Family depicted in Rest on the Flight to Egypt  (Merson, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1879).  Mary, holding the baby Jesus, rests in the arms of the father-like sphinx.  Joseph sleeps by the dying campfire.  Though under extreme duress, fleeing from the murderous Herod, Joseph is at peace, knowing the protection of his wife and son are secured, not by his own devices, but by God the Father.   

German Jesuit Alfred Delp, martyred by the Nazis in 1945, wrote meditations on scraps of paper while handcuffed and in solitary confinement.  He too learned from the Holy Family, writing this for the first Sunday of Advent:

The basic condition of life always has an Advent dimension: boundaries, and hunger, and thirst, and lack of fulfillment, and promise, and movement toward one another. That means, however, that we basically remain without shelter, under way, and open until the final encounter, with all the humble blessedness and painful pleasure of this openness.  Therefore there is no interim finality, and the attempt to create final conclusions is an old temptation of mankind. Hunger and thirst, and desert journeying, and the survival teamwork of mountaineers on a rope--these are the truth of our human condition.  May God help us to wake up to ourselves and in doing so, to move from ourselves toward Him. Universi, qui te exspectant, non confundentur (Those who wait for you will not be disappointed).  May we know and acknowledge the hunger and thirst above and beyond ourselves. Indeed, this is no waiting without hope. Rather, the heart receives the delightful warmth known to those who wait with the certitude that the other is coming and has already set out on the way.

 

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