Sun 29 December 2019
Matthew 2: 13-15,19-23

And after they were departed, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and fly into Egypt: and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the child to destroy him. Who arose, and took the child and his mother by night, and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: That it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called my son.

But when Herod was dead, behold an angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph in Egypt, Saying: Arise, and take the child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel. For they are dead that sought the life of the child.

Who arose, and took the child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the room of Herod his father, he was afraid to go thither: and being warned in sleep retired into the quarters of Galilee. And coming he dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was said by prophets: That he shall be called a Nazarene.

From The Gospel as Revealed to Me by Maria Valtorta (Chapter 35.1-6):

35.1 My spirit sees the following scene.

It is night. Joseph is sleeping in his little bed in his very small room: the peaceful sleep of a man after a hard day’s honest and diligent work.

I can see him in the dark room, because a thin ray of moonlight filters in through the window shutters left ajar, either because Joseph is too warm in the little room or because he wants to be woken by the early rays of light at daybreak and get up at once. He is lying on one side and is smiling at some vision he sees in his dream.

But his smile turns into an expression of anxiety. He is now sighing deeply as if he had a nightmare and he awakes with a start. He sits up on his bed, rubs his eyes and looks around. He looks at the little window where the feeble light comes in. It is the dead of night but he grasps his robe, which is lying at the bottom of the bed, and still sitting on the bed he pulls it on over the white short-sleeved tunic he is wearing next to his skin. He pulls the blanket away, puts his feet on the floor and looks for his sandals. He puts them on and ties them. He stands up and goes towards the door facing his bed, not the one at the side of his bed leading into the large room where the Magi were received.

He knocks very gently, a very soft knocking with the tips of his fingers. He must have heard a voice asking him to enter because he opens the door carefully and sets it ajar without making any noise. Before going to the door he has lit a small single flame oil lamp, and lights his way with it. He goes in. The room is a little larger than his own, and there is a low bed in it, near a cradle, with a night lamp in a corner, the flickering flame of which seems like a little star with a soft golden light that allows one to see without disturbing anyone sleeping.

35.2 But Mary is not sleeping. She is kneeling near the cradle in Her light coloured dress and is praying, watching Jesus Who is sleeping peacefully. Jesus is the same age as I saw Him in the vision of the Magi: a Child about one year old, beautiful, rosy and fair haired. He is sleeping with His curly head sunk in the pillow and a clenched fist under His chin.

«Are You not sleeping?» Joseph asks Her in a low surprised voice. «Why not? Is Jesus not well?»

«Oh, no! He is alright. I am praying. Later I will sleep. Why have you come, Joseph?» Mary speaks, kneeling on the same spot.

Joseph speaks in a very low voice so as not to awaken the Child, but it is an excited voice. «We must go away from here at once. It must be at once . Prepare the coffer and a sack with everything You can put in them. I’ll prepare the rest, I’ll take as much as I can… We will flee at dawn. I would go even sooner but I must speak to the landlady…»

«But why this flight?»

«I will tell You later. It’s because of Jesus. An angel said to me: ‘Take the Child and His Mother and escape to Egypt.’ Don’t waste any time. I’m going to prepare what I can.»

35.3 There is no need to tell Mary not to waste time. As soon as She heard Joseph mention an angel, Jesus and flight, She understood that Her Creature was in danger and She jumped to Her feet, Her face whiter than wax, holding one hand against Her heart, completely distressed. And She began to move about, quick and agile, laying the clothes in the coffer and in a large sack which She placed on Her bed still untouched. Although She is disheartened, She does not lose Her head: She acts quickly but orderly. Now and again, when passing near the cradle, She looks at the Child Who is sleeping calmly.

«Do you need help?» Joseph asks now and again, peeping into the room through the door ajar.

«No, thank you,» replies Mary every time.

Only when Her sack is full, and it is obviously very heavy, She calls Joseph to help Her to close it and take it off the bed. But Joseph does not want any help, he prefers to do it himself, and he takes the long sack into his little room.

«Shall I also take the woollen blankets?» asks Mary.

«Take as much as You can. We will lose the rest. Do take as much as You can. Things will be useful because… because we will have to stay away for a long time, Mary!…» Joseph is very sad in saying so. And one can easily imagine how Mary feels. She folds Her blankets and Joseph’s, sighing deeply. Joseph ties the blankets with a rope and while doing so, he says: «We shall leave the quilts and the mats. Even if I take three donkeys I cannot overload them. We will have a long and uncomfortable journey, partly in the mountains and in the desert. Cover Jesus well. The nights will be cold both up in the mountains and in the desert. I have taken the gifts of the Magi because they will be very useful down there. I am going to spend all the money I have to buy two donkeys. We cannot send them back, so I will have to buy them. I’ll go now, without awaiting dawn. I know where to find them. You finish preparing everything.» And he goes out.

Mary gathers a few more things, then, after looking at Jesus, She goes out and comes back with some little dresses which appear to be still damp: perhaps they were washed the day before. She folds them, wraps them up in a cloth, and adds them to the other things. There is nothing else.

She looks around and in a corner She sees one of Jesus’ toys: a little sheep carved in wood. She picks it up sobbing, and kisses it. On the wood there are traces of Jesus’ little teeth and the ears of the little sheep are all nibbled. Mary caresses the thing without any value, a plain piece of light wood, which, however, is of great value to Her, because it tells Her of Joseph’s love for Jesus and speaks to Her of Her Child. She adds it to the other things placed on the closed coffer.

35.4 Now there is really nothing else. Except Jesus in the little cradle. Mary thinks She should prepare the Child. She goes to the cradle and shakes it a little to wake up the Baby. But He whimpers a little, turns round and continues to sleep. Mary pats His curls gently. Jesus opens His little mouth yawning. Mary bends down and kisses His cheek. Jesus wakes up completely. He opens His eyes, sees His Mother and smiles and stretches His little hands towards Her breast.

«Yes, love of Your Mummy. Yes, Your milk. Before the usual time… But You are always ready to suck Your Mummy’s breast, My little holy Lamb!»

Jesus laughs and plays, kicking His little feet out of the blankets, moving His arms happily in a typical childish style, so beautiful to see. He pushes His feet against His Mummy’s stomach, He arches His back leaning His fair head on Her breast, and then throws Himself back and laughs, holding with His hands the laces that tie Mary’s dress to Her neck, endeavouring to open it. He looks most beautiful in His little linen shirt, plump and as rosy as a flower.

Mary bends down and in that position, looking over the cradle, as if in protection, She smiles and cries at the same time, while the Child prattles, uttering words which are not the words of all little children; among them the word «Mummy» is repeated very clearly. He looks at Her, surprised to see Her crying. He stretches one little hand towards the shiny traces of tears and it gets wet while patting Her face. And, very gracefully, He leans once again on His Mother’s breast, He clings to it and pats it with His hand.

Mary kisses His hair, picks Him up in Her arms, sits down and dresses Him. His little woollen dress has now been put on Him and His sandals have been tied on His feet. She nurses Him and Jesus avidly sucks His Mother’s good milk, and when He feels that only a little is coming from Her right breast, He looks for the left one, laughing while doing so and looking up at His Mother. Then He falls asleep again on Her breast, His rosy round little cheek resting against Her white round breast.

Mary rises very slowly and lays Him on the quilt on Her bed. She covers Him with Her mantle, She goes back to the cradle and folds its little blankets. She wonders whether She ought to take the little mattress as well. It’s so small. It can be taken. She puts it, together with the pillow, near the other things already on the coffer. And She cries over the empty cradle, poor Mother, persecuted in Her Little Creature.

35.5 Joseph comes back. «Are you ready? Is Jesus ready? Have You taken His blankets and His little bed? We can’t take His cradle, but He must have at least His little mattress: poor Baby, Whose death they are seeking!»

«Joseph!» shouts Mary, while She grasps his arm.

«Yes, Mary, His death . Herod wants Him dead… because he is afraid of Him, that filthy beast, because of his human kingdom he is afraid of this innocent Child. I do not know what he will do when he realises that He has escaped. But we shall be far away by that time. I don’t think he will revenge himself by seeking Him as far as Galilee. It would be very difficult for him to find out that we are Galileans, least of all that we are from Nazareth and who we are exactly. Unless Satan helps him to thank him for being his faithful servant. But… if that should happen… God will help us just the same. Don’t cry, Mary. To see You crying is a greater pain for me than having to go into exile.»

«Forgive Me, Joseph. I am not crying for Myself, or for the few things I am losing. I am crying for you… You have already had to sacrifice yourself so much! And now once again you will have no customers, no home. How much I am costing you, Joseph!».

«How much? No, Mary. You do not cost me. You comfort me. Always. Don’t worry about the future. We have the gifts of the Magi. They will help us for the first days. Later I will find some work. A good clever workman will always make his way. You have seen what happened here. I haven’t got enough time for all the work I have.»

«I know. But who will relieve your homesickness for your native land?»

«And what about You? Who will relieve Your longing for Your home which is so dear to You?»

«Jesus. Having Him, I have what I had there.»

«And I, having Jesus, have my native land, in which I had hope up to some months ago. I have my God. You can see that I lose nothing of what is dear to me above all things. The only important thing is to save Jesus, and then we have everything . Even if we should never see this sky again, or this country or the even dearer country of Galilee, we shall always have everything, be-

35.6 cause we shall have Him. Come, Mary, it is starting to dawn. It is time to say goodbye to our hostess and load our things. Everything will be alright.»

Mary gets up obediently. She puts on Her mantle while Joseph makes up a last parcel and goes out with it.

Mary lifts the Child gently, wraps Him in a shawl and clasps Him to Her heart. She looks at the walls that have given Her hospitality for some months and She touches them caressingly with one hand. Happy house, that deserved to be loved and blessed by Mary!

She goes out. She goes through Joseph’s little room, into the large room. The landlady, in tears, kisses Her goodbye and, lifting the edge of the shawl, she kisses the forehead of the Child Who is sleeping calmly. They go down the outside steps.

The first light of dawn enables them to see faintly. In the dim light, three little donkeys can be seen. The strongest is loaded with the goods and chattels. The other two are saddled. Joseph is busy fastening the coffer and bundles on the pack-saddle of the first one. I can see his carpenter’s tools tied in a bundle on top of the sack.

After more tears and goodbyes, Mary mounts the little donkey, while the landlady is holding Jesus in her arms, and kissing Him once again. She then hands Him back to Mary. Joseph, too, mounts after tying his donkey to the one loaded with the goods, in order to be free to hold the reins of Mary’s donkey.

The flight begins while Bethlehem, still dreaming of the phantasmagoric scene of the Magi, is sleeping peacefully, unaware of what is impending over it.

And the vision ends thus.