The Holy Family

Ecclesiasticus 3:2-6,12-14; Psalm 127(128):1-5; Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

For the second time this week we have part of the account for the flight into Egypt from Matthew, and of the evasion of the intent of Herod to search for and to murder the Holy child. Matthew frequently references the Jewish scriptures and here quotes Hoseah 11:1 out of context, saying that Jesus' father took them UP into Egypt. This would certainly have struck his readers as the Jews would instinctively go UP to the Lord in the Temple at Jerusalem - to them Egypt was somewhere evil that they had come up out of. A sentence or two later Matthew references prophecies (note the plural) that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Except - there is no direct prophesy in the old testament saying this.

What could the purpose of Matthew's 'errors' be? We understand that nothing in Sacred scripture can be in error! Well, to be over-literal in the reading of scripture can itself be an error. Matthew is using these controversial words to point out the nature of Jesus, and the nature of the Messiah. The Messiah was not going to be predictable, nor would he be constrained by mere human wishes. He did not come to restore the ancient covenant, but to establish a new one. There is no inconsistency here, we must learn to wrestle with the words of scripture and seek a deeper meaning than the surface of the words might present.

This is (already) the third time Matthew uses the formula 'that it might be fulfilled'. This technique, used often by Matthew, suggests the importance of realising that God is in charge.

Posted in Daily Reflection.