October 7, 2007

Flight of St Mary and her beloved Son: ተአምረ ፍቅርኪ ማርያም ይገብር መንክረ

‹‹ተአምረ ፍቅርኪ ማርያም ይገብር መንክረ
እንዘ ጻዕረ ሞት ያረስዕ ወያስተፅዕም መሪረ››
(The miracle of your love does a lot of miracle/
it gets someone forget the horror of death and sweetens bitterness)

ማኅሌተ ጽጌ
This verse is quoted from the renowned hymn sung in remembrance of the flight of the holy family to Egypt and later to Ethiopia. The occasion is remembered in the Church from Meskerem 26 to Hidar 6 (Ca. Sept 7-Nov 6).


According to Matthew, when the Magi came to Herod the Great in Jerusalem and asked where the newborn "King of the Jews" was, he became paranoid that the child would become a threat to his throne, and sought to kill Him (2:1-8). Herod initiated the Massacre of the Innocents in hopes of killing the Child (2:16-18). But an angel appeared to Joseph and warned him to take Jesus Christ and his mother into Egypt (2:13). Egypt was the logical place to find refuge, as it was outside the dominions of King Herod, and throughout the Old Testament it was the standard place of exile for those unsafe in Palestine. At the time in which the story of the flight is set, both Egypt and Palestine were part of the Roman Empire, making travel between them easy and relatively safe.

During their travels, written accounts indicate that they received charity from pious strangers, but often they were without shelter, food or water. Most of the sites associated with the Flight of the Holy Family reflect some tribulation overcome by the Holy Family. For example, walking in the heat of the day, they find shade under a tree, which is blessed. When they are hungry, a palm tree bows down, offering its dates. Their thirst is quenched by local wells, or in more dire circumstances, by springs brought forth by the infant Jesus. When chased by thieves, a tree opens up to hide them. If there is no room in an inn, they sleep in a cave that miraculously appears.

The flight did not end in Egypt alone. The Holy Family, according to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church tradition, continued their journey to Ethiopia and get shelter in places such as Islands in Tana lake.

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