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St Mary Coptic Orthodox Church In Delaware - The feast of the flight of the holy family to Egypt

The feast of the flight of the holy family to Egypt

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The feast of the flight of the holy family to Egypt is an event of the utmost significance to the Coptic Church.

 

Herod the king wanted to kill the two year old child Jesus Christ after the wise men from the East told him that they had seen His star as the King of the Jews.

 

The Lord Jesus, determined not to resist the evilness of Herod with evil, sent His angel to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” (Mt. 2:13) Joseph woke up very early and took the child Jesus and His mother St. Mary and departed seeking refuge in Egypt.

 

Jesus could have revenged and took the life of Herod but instead he taught us to flee from evil. In doing that, He blessed Egypt as it is written, “Blessed is Egypt My people.” (Is. 19:25).

 

The way from Bethlehem to Egypt was very dangerous as the 85 year old Joseph, the 2 year old child Jesus, and His young 14 year old mother had to travel in the dessert of Sinai, enduring the scorching heat of the sun by day and the bitter cold of the desert nights, preserved from the threat of wild beasts and savage thieves.

 

Some tradition says that one of them was the thief crucified at the right hand of Jesus. As the holy family entered the first town in Egypt, the idols tottered at His Presence as Isaiah prophesied saying: "Behold the Lord rides on a swift cloud, and will come into Egypt and the idols of Egypt will totter at His Presence." (Isaiah 19:1) Therefore, the Egyptians were seeking to kill the holy family and hence the holy family had to move from one place to another.

 

This way all Egypt was blessed. When you visit Egypt, you will see broken idols fallen on the ground in these places. One of the places in which the holy family sought refuge and settled for 6 months was the site where the Almuharraq Monastery is now.

 

Isaiah prophesied about this and said, "In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt; and a Pillar to the Lord, at its border. And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt". (Isaiah 19:19-20) The altar-stone was the 'bed' upon which the child Jesus lay.

 

Almuharraq Monastery is located, literally, in the middle of Egypt standing at its exact geographical center. The "pillar at its border” is the Patriarchal See of the Coptic Church in Egypt which was established by St Mark himself in Alexandria, on Egypt's northern borders. The Bible tells us, "Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and will make sacrifices and offering". (Isaiah 19:21). As Christianity in Egypt spread, churches were built on the sites which had been visited and blessed by the Holy Family's sojourns.

 

The visit was chronicled by Pope Theophilus, 23rd Patriarch of Alexandria (384-412 AD). He was going to consecrate the church in the monastery of Almuharraq but St. Mary appeared to him the night before and explained to him that the Lord Jesus consecrated it as he was laid on it every day for 6 months. She also confirmed to him the oral tradition about the details of the Holy Family's journey in Egypt and the supernatural occurrences which accompanied them.

 

After 3.5 years, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” (Mt. 2:20) That was a fulfillment of the prophecy by Hosea, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Hosea 11:1) Joseph “arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Is. 11:1, Jer. 23:5, 33:15, Zech 3:8, 6:12) We thank our Lord, God and Savior for humbling Himself and blessing Egypt. Glory to Him forever.

 

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