Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Now when the magi had departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” Matthew 2:13-15 (Gospel Reading-Sunday after Christmas)
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
One of the many titles given to Jesus Christ is “the second Adam.” Christ comes and fulfills what the first Adam could not do. The first Adam lived in Paradise. By “restoring” the fallen image of Adam, Christ shows us the gateway back to the Paradise enjoyed by Adam. In His earthly ministry, Christ retraced all the steps of the Old Testament. Not only did He fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament (more on that is coming in the next few reflections), but He took the journey of the Israelites to Egypt and then back out of Egypt.
For those who don’t remember, the Israelites went to Egypt to escape a famine in their land that would have brought certain death. After staying as sojourners in a strange land, where they eventually became enslaved, they were liberated and once again went back to the land of Canaan, their original homeland.
Christ follows the same journey—under the threat of death by King Herod, He escaped to Egypt, where He remained, a stranger in a strange land, until Herod had died and it was safe to return to His homeland.
Trusting God in our life journeys is again a theme today. First, the Magi, who had trusted in a star that they followed for two years, believing it would lead to the Christ, again had to trust in God. “Being warned in a dream not to return to Herod and departing to their own country by another way,” (Matthew 2:12), they bypassed Herod’s palace on the way out of town. Think of the consequences that could have had. Herod was furious and would kill all the male children in Bethlehem because of that, though he very easily could have ordered the death of the Magi as well.
And Mary and Joseph had to take another “leap of faith” when they were told by the Angel to go to Egypt “until further notice.” For their journey to Bethlehem, they only had the possessions they could carry with them. Joseph most likely thought he’d return to Nazareth, to his home and his business, after the quick trip to Bethlehem for the census. Now, there was no opportunity to go home, his meager belongings would have to suffice for this journey. How would he provide an income? What would happen to his carpentry business after a long absence from home? And yet Joseph and Mary took the journey to Egypt, strangers again in a strange land, and God provided for them because they trusted in Him. We are not told how, only that they safely made it to Egypt, safely lived there, and eventually safely returned to Nazareth.
Our life journeys also have strange and unforeseen twists and turns in them. Many times God asks us to take a detour, and sometimes another detour on that. Many times we have to really dig deep and trust in God, for sometimes what He asks of us is daunting. Some of life’s journeys can be downright scary.
I’m sure if you think about it, we’ve all had the experience of the flight to Egypt, being strangers in a strange land—that might be when you went to college, or relocated to a new town, or started a new job. We all have to take some leap of faith. When we do it with God, and more important, when we do it for God, we always arrive at a “safe” ending, even though the passage itself might be filled with danger. And most important, even though the ending might not be the place where we thought He would lead us. This is very important—sometimes the end of the journey is not where we would have wanted it to be. But if we stay faithful to God, and follow the journey to where HE wants it to end, we will find ultimate safety with Him.
Christ took the journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. We too must pass through our own “Egypt” on our way to the Promised Land.
Working signs of old the Master saved the people, replacing fluid waves of the sea with dry land. Now born of a Maid by His own will, He has made passable a way to heaven. Him, in essence equal to mankind and the Father, we glorify. (Iambic Katavasias of the Nativity, Trans. Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
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The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops. OCN offers videos, podcasts, blogs and music, to enhance Orthodox Christian life. The Prayer Team is a daily devotion written by Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, the parish priest at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, Florida. Devotions include a verse from scripture, a commentary from Fr. Stavros, and a short prayer that he writes to match the topic.
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