Today is the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
The Holy Family’s flight to Egypt and their stay there gave rise to many tales composed centuries later. It is said that their journey to Egypt was blessed with many miracles-lions and leopards wagging their tails in homage, and palm trees bending down to give them fruit. Legends dating back to the fifth century say that the Holy Family stayed in the city of Matariyah, just northeast of present-day Cairo. One story says that as a child, Jesus grew balsam trees producing balm that cured almost anything, including snakebite.
Another story says that as the family passed through a city about one hundred and fifty miles up the Nile, the pagan idol statues bowed to them. A monastery further up the Nile claims to be on the site where the Holy Family lived for six months. While they were there, the story goes, two robbers set upon the Holy Family, but one was full of repentance when he saw Mary’s tears. These turn out to be the same two robbers who were later crucified with Jesus, and the one who had been moved to remorse by Mary’s tears ended up to be the “good thief” on the cross next to Jesus.
All stories, all legend, but all powerful in the way they make faith a part of the human experience.
Before the year is over, maybe we gather with family to tell the stories, true ones and those of legend that are personal to us. Perhaps, stories of faith and faith journeys are part of the lore and what a wonderful time to retell. Isn’t that what the Christmas Season is anyway?
A Blessed and Happy New Year to the Good Stewards of All Hallows, their families and all with whom they share lives of love and faith.