When you were a child, do you remember feeling safe?
Were you worried whether your house was secure from crime or storms or disrepair? Or whether you would be fed when you were hungry? If your family had enough money? If something might happen to your parents?
What about emotional safety? Were friends and family loving in their words and actions?
And how did you experience spiritual safety as a child? Did you believe God desired good for every person, including yourself? Are your early faith memories positive or negative?
This is the second in a series of posts reflecting on our seven basic human desires in light of Mary's Seven Sorrows. This week, we consider Mary's Second Sorrow, The Flight to Egypt, and the basic human desire to be safe.
Matthew 2 tells the classic Christmas story of wisemen following a star in search of the new royal baby whose birth the star announced. In their excitement, the magi unwittingly alarm King Herod to Jesus' presence, and Herod reacts like any power-hungry monarch: he makes plans to kill the child. (In defense of the magi, who would have guessed a newborn king wouldn't be the son of the current king?)
Note how spiritual safety becomes integral to their story: "Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country another way" (Matthew 2:12). After finding and worshipping Jesus, the magi felt spiritually safe enough to trust a message from God in a dream over a powerful, angry monarch with whom they had made an agreement to report the child's location.
Joseph had a similar experience: "the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt…'" (Matthew 2:13). Because Joseph's experience of God to this point assured him of God's goodness and love, Joseph could act from a place of spiritual safety, trusting the message of an angel in his dream and fleeing with Mary and Jesus to Egypt.
Do you feel spiritually safe enough to hear and trust God's voice in your life?
Emotional safety is also paramount to this story: Because there's a history of loving action from Joseph in their relationship, Mary can trust Joseph when he shares that he received a godly message in a dream, and she can support his conviction that they must escape to Egypt.
Do you feel emotionally safe in your relationships, that those closest to you are aware of and desire your good?
Surely concerned thoughts prodded Mary and Joseph as they traveled with their infant son… Is the road safe? Are there provisions along the way? Will a strange land welcome them?
When we feel unsafe -- physically, emotionally, spiritually -- or if we experienced these unresolved fears as children, it can surface in unexpected ways: the inability to live confidently, pressure to control the smallest details of everything around us, relational anxiety…
As parents, there's a new level of fear that affects us even more than our own safety: is my child safe? We see this theme repeated in countless stories of refugees and immigrants throughout history. Good parents will go to any length to provide safety for their children.
As we reflect on Mary's Second Sorrow, The Flight to Egypt, let's ask ourselves: In what ways is the basic human desire to be safe fulfilled in my life? For parents, how can I help my child feel safe -- physically, emotionally, and spiritually?
Flight of the Holy Family Into Egypt c. 1647
Jacob Jordaens / Public domain
Next week, we'll reflect on Mary's Third Sorrow, The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple, in light of our basic human desire to be chosen.
*Also published September 2020 at Sacred Heart Blog.
You can read the first post in this series (Sorrow, Prophecy, & The Desire To Be Affirmed) here.
For more information on the seven basic human desires, check out: Seven Desires: Looking Past What Separates Us to Learn What Connects Us by Mark & Debra Laaser.