On Christmas Eve we gathered amidst the candlelight, the carols, and sugar plum fairies and heard of the Incarnation from the Gospel of Luke. Luke firmly planted his rendition of the Incarnation amidst the decrees of the Caesar, the songs of the angels, and the manger in Bethlehem.
Two days later we gathered for the First Sunday after Christmas and listened to John’s take on the Incarnation. John grounded his rendition in the primordial light of creation, and that light being finally understood, recognized and received when the Word became flesh.
On the Second Sunday after Christmas we are treated to the Gospel of Matthew. Today we complete the victory lap with yet another perspective.
As Matthew begins his Gospel and the story of Jesus he begins by unequivocally announcing Jesus as the New Moses.
He has some good material to start with. The names of the key players: Joseph, Mary and Jesus harken back to familiar players from the story of the Exodus. It was a young dreamer named Joseph who brought Israel into Egypt. It was Moses’ sister Miriam (the Hebrew form of “Mary”) who sang a song of victory on the other side of the Red Sea. And is was Joshua (the Hebrew form of the Latinate “Jesus”) who finally ushered the People of God into the Promised Land.
Matthew doesn’t make these details up, he merely uses them. It’s in his Gospel that Jesus’ father, Joseph, also communicates with God through dreams. It’s in Matthew that the killing of the male children of Israel in Egypt is re-lived in Herod killing the male children of Nazareth.
And, in case you miss any of this, the Holy Family travel to Egypt in fear and return to the Promised Land when the coast is clear – making their own mini-Exodus and wilderness journey.
Matthew’s point? Jesus is the New Moses. In Jesus we have a New Exodus.
In Jesus we are set free again. For Matthew the Incarnation means liberation and entry into another Promised Land, albeit a little more eternal.
Jesus sets us free from every bond. Death. Sin. Loneliness. Addiction. Depression. Poverty. Anxiety. Fear. Subjection.
As The 12 Days of Christmas come to a close, it would be good to use this time to 1) take down the tree, 2) take stock of what holds us down; what keeps us captive.
And 3)… Wonder at the freedom that Jesus offers us. Our New Moses. Our New Exodus.
Free at last.