In this Gospel Jesus’ family flees to Egypt and lives there till the death of Herod. They live the hard life of refugees because of the threat of death, and can return only when it has gone (Matt 2:13-22). Why is Matthew so interested in telling hi Jewish readers about Jesus’ stay in Egypt? The mention of Joseph going to Egypt would remind his readers immediately of another Joseph, son of Israel, who was sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt, but saved his whole family from famine. They would also think of the most important event in the whole history of their people, the exodus, how through Moses God liberated them from a life of slavery in Egypt, made a covenant with them in the desert and brought them to the land of promise (Gen 37-50; Ex 1-14). Matthew sums up these events by quoting Hosea 11:1 Where, the prophet tells how God loved his people and called them out of Egypt, took care of them and made a covenant with them which they continued to break throughout their history. For the Jews this liberation from Egypt and the covenant enacted at mount Sinai constituted the birth of their nation and they celebrated it every year as if they were living it again. In their celebrations they rekindled their hopes that one day the Messiah would bring them full liberation. Matthew shows to the Jewish Christians that their hopes are now fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is the new Moses coming out of Egypt to liberate his people. In the way Matthew writes the story of Jesus, Jesus seems to be reliving the history of the people of Israel. If we, the new people of God, follow Jesus our teacher, the new Moses, we will have the strength to overcome all our trials and temptations.
All through Advent, we heard words of hope and newness proclaimed in the context of desolation, the wilderness, and finally humiliation. Now, at Christmas, God's gift of light is given in the darkness. That's where God comes to us--not on the heights but in the depths, where there is desolation, a wilderness of doubt and despair where there is darkness. Christ was born for the shepherds, just as he was born for tax collectors and prostitutes. he was born, lived, and died for the downtrodden, the outcast, and the outdone of every shape, size color, and description. He said so himself (Mark 2:16-17; Luke 4:16-30). And he did so himself, shedding his light in the darkness to break its grip wherever it reigned. But that's just the beginning of the good news. For this child, born in the darkness and laid in a trough, was destined to reign and reigns now as Lord of the worlds. He is the one of whom Isaiah sings, of whose government and peace "there will be no end," who establishes and upholds his kingdom "from this time forth and for evermore." He is the one of whom the angel says, "to you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:11-12). For all of our celebrations of Christmas, we seldom catch the startling contrasts involved: that the holy angels should sing to some notorious shepherds, that the Lord of the universe should be tucked away in a cattle trough. But it is in these contrasts that the miracle of Christmas and all of its good news lies. The God "who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist" (Rom. 4:17), who "chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are" (1 Cor. 1:28), has come into your darkness because he has chosen you. As they sang to the shepherds, the angels sing to you: "For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord"--the Lord of all the worlds.
As we draw nearer to the celebration of Christmas, we now turn our attention to events that happened before Jesus was born. These events are told in the first two chapters of Matthew and today’s Gospel comes from there. Joseph is the main character. He has to decide what to do with Mary following her mysterious pregnancy. God intervenes through his messenger exhorting him to keep her as his wife because she is to give birth to the Savior. Joseph obeys the messenger angel and by so doing allows Jesus to become a descendant of David. Joseph is important because he is of David’s stock. By accepting Jesus as his legal child, Jesus becomes a son of David. Matthew placed his genealogy of Jesus at the very beginning of his Gospel (Matt 1:1-17) in order to make this point clear right from the start. Joseph is also presented to us as an example of a person of faith. He obeys each time the messenger of God says something to him concerning his relationship with Mary and the child Jesus (Matt 1:24; 2:14, 21, 22). His faith allows God to intervene in the lives of his people. The Savior is called Jesus, a Greek form of the name Joshua, which means “God saves” (Matt1:21; Luke 1:31; Acts 4:12). In Jesus, God saves his people from their sins. He is the new sign by which the people of Israel and of all ages know that God is with us.
In this Gospel Jesus in engages in his public ministry. It describes a crisis in his ministry. He has been teaching, preaching, and healing and the question that everybody is wondering who he is? Is he the Messiah we are expecting? John’s question from prison helps Jesus explain the kind of Messiah he is. He is the one who is to come; the Messiah, and the miracles he performs prove it. However, he is not the political Messiah that many are expecting. He brings liberation of a different kind. As Jesus was baptized, it became clear that his way of being a Messiah was completely contrary to the expectation of John the Baptist and of everyone else as well. Jesus does not impose the Kingdom through power or prestige (Matt 4:1-11) but rather through submission to the will of God as expressed in the Scriptures. He breaks with the past in many ways. Evil will not be repaid by evil. Goodness will be the standard (Matt 5:38-48). Jesus cares for the poor and the sick and calls disciples to join him in this work or mercy. No fierce judge, no destruction or the wicked! To have faith means to trust that God knows the implications of all the events of our lives and to understand them as part of God’s plan of salvation for us.