At a time when the whole world seems to be changing before our eyes like a tape on fast-forward — with economies being shattered, social norms being challenged and even the security of constitutional freedoms being penetrated — we see the a family uprooted from everything they know, everything “normal” and comfortable and familiar. Not only are they are unable to simply “go back” to the way things were, they are being led into something wholly different, with nothing to go on, but trust.
A man, a woman and a baby, moving against a whole world of uncertainty, injustice and danger.
And how great to see Joseph included in this image. At a time when men — and especially fathers — are portrayed as buffoonish punchlines or optional accessories, we have here a reassuring reminder that fathers are valuable and good, and essential.
There is much consolation in this lovely picture. In the Crucifix we encounter “The God Who Knows” — the one who understands our feelings of fear, abandonment, betrayal, shame, thirst. Here we see “The God Who Knows” familial anxiety, too, and social separation, material deprivation and — perhaps again — thirst. His step-father, obedient to something as ephemeral as a dream, placed everything into the hands of divine providenceand led them into new terrain, seeking wells and watering holes as they traveled; his mother drank, that the infant might be nourished. This is a God who has been part of a family unit that worked like a closed circuit of surety and continuance, and a God who also knew all of its stresses.
There is nothing going on in the world, or in our personal spheres, for which scripture and the life of the Christ does not offer an instructive correlation, if only we bother to turn to God, instead of away; if only we bother to seek it out. This stamp, this image, is an invitation to the whole world to trust God because he is always faithful. It says“Ephphatha!”; it says, “I know the plans I have for you…”; it says “fear not, I am with you…”; it says “do not worry about tomorrow…”.
She's got more. Do you need more?