When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:13-14
I think I have shared in this space before that my father-in-law and his family came to the United States as refugees. Following the 1956 revolution in Hungary and his father’s imprisonment for other “crimes” against the Soviet regime, 8 year old Steve and his siblings were “enemies of the State”. My husband’s Nagypapa and Nagymama (grandparents) made the heroic and difficult decision to flee Communist persecution and walked out of the country with their five children in exceedingly dangerous circumstances. Unfortunately, cancer robbed us of Steve last year, so my son Max will never get to hear this story from his Nagypapa. However, this story is so integral to our family that my husband and I will make sure Max always understands the sacrifices that created the family we have now.
There’s not much about Joseph in the gospels, but the little that there is shows us a truly heroic father. First he commits to being the father of a child ostensibly conceived in sin, then he brings his very pregnant wife to Bethlehem for the Roman census, then he trusts the angel and flees with his wife and brand new baby to Egypt in search of safety. I can’t imagine the fear that would cause you to pack up every thing you can carry and flee in the middle of the night, but I do know that I feel strongly that those of us who will never experience that fear need to travel that path with Mary and Joseph by meeting the needs of the families asking for that same safe space.
I am privileged to work with many students who are immigrants or the children of immigrants, and I can see the sorrow of parents separated by laws, work opportunities or policies from their children. Many of the families we work with as teachers live in this same fear: the fear of the dangers they left behind them or the fear of their status here. At times I feel helpless to affect real change in these circumstances. Like Joseph and Mary, I have to blindly trust that doing what God wills in my life will help move my life and the lives of those I serve to a more just society.
This day, my prayer is for all the children who live in fear and all parents separated from their children. I also pray for your family, that God would continue to bless you with unity, safety and open hearts for those families who don’t have the security that we have.
Questions for reflection:
Are there families in my school or local community who need love and support in their new lives in this country?
Are there children in my circle who live in fear? What can I do to bring more peace into their lives?
Is God calling me to be a voice for those who need my help?