THE DWELLING OF JESUS IN EGYPT
Jesus chose to dwell in Egypt during His infancy, that therein He might lead a hard and a more abject life. According to St. Anselm and other writers, the Holy Family lived in Heliopolis. Let us with St. Bonaventure contemplate the life of Jesus during the seven years He remained in Egypt, as was revealed to St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi.
The house is very poor, for St. Joseph has little wherewith to pay rent; their bed is poor, their food poor; their life, in short, is one of strict poverty, for day by day they barely gain their livelihood by the work of their hands, and they live in a country where they are unknown and are despised, having neither relatives nor friends.
The Holy Family does indeed live in great poverty; but oh, how well-ordered are the occupations of these three sojourners! The Holy Infant speaks not with His tongue, but in His Heart He continually speaks to His Heavenly Father, offering all His sufferings, and every moment of His life for our salvation. And Mary does not speak, but at the sight of that dear Infant she meditates on the Divine love, and the favour that God has conferred upon her by choosing her for His Mother. Joseph also works in silence; but at the sight of the Divine Child his heart is inflamed, and he thanks the Child for having chosen him for the companion and guardian of His life.
O Holy Infant, Who livest in this country of barbarians, poor, unknown, and despised, I acknowledge Thee for my God and Saviour, and I thank Thee for all the humiliations and sufferings Thou didst endure in Egypt for the love of me. By Thy manner of life there Thou dost teach me to live as a pilgrim on this earth, giving me to understand that this is not my country; but that Paradise which Thou hast purchased for me by Thy death, is my home. Ah, my Jesus, I have been ungrateful to Thee because I have thought but little of what Thou hast done and suffered for me. When I think that Thou, the Son of God, didst lead a life of such tribulation upon this earth, so poor and neglected, how is it possible that I should go about seeking the amusements and good things of the earth? Take me, I pray Thee, my dear Redeemer, for Thy companion; admit me to live always united with Thee upon this earth, in order that, united with Thee in Heaven, I may love Thee there, and be Thy companion throughout eternity.
In this house Mary weans Jesus: at first she fed Him from her breast, now she feeds Him with her hands; she holds Him in her lap, takes from the porringer a little bread soaked in water, and puts it into the sacred mouth of her Son. In this house Mary released her Infant from His swathing-bands, and made Him His first little garments and dressed Him in them. In this house the Child Jesus begins to walk and speak. Let us adore the first steps of the Incarnate Word, and the first words of Eternal Wisdom uttered by Him. Here also He began to do the work of a little servant-boy, occupying Himself in all the little services that a child can render.
Ah, weaning! ah, little garment! ah, first steps! ah, lisping words! ah, little services of the little Jesus, how do you not wound and inflame the hearts of those who love Jesus and meditate on everything in His life. Behold God trembling and falling! God lisping! God become so weak that He can occupy Himself in nothing but little household affairs, unable even to lift a bit of wood, if too heavy for the strength of a child! O Holy Faith, enlighten us, and make us love this good Lord, Who for the love of us has submitted Himself to so many miseries! It is said that on the entrance of Jesus into Egypt all the idols of the country fell down; oh, let us pray God that He will make us love Jesus from our hearts, since in the soul into which the love of Jesus enters, all idols of earthly affections are overthrown.
Give me light, O God; increase my Faith. What are riches, or pleasures, or dignities, or honours! All is vanity and folly. The only real riches, the only real good, is to possess Thee Who art the Infinite Good. Blessed he who loves Thee! I love Thee, O my Jesus, and I seek none other but Thee. I desire Thee, and Thou desirest me. If I had a thousand kingdoms, I would renounce them all to please Thee. “My God and my All!” If in times past I have sought after the vanities and pleasures of this world, I now detest them, and am sorry that I have done so. My beloved Saviour, from this day forward Thou shalt be my only delight, my only love, my only treasure. Most holy Mary, pray to Jesus for me. Beseech Him to make me rich in His love alone, and I desire nothing more.