Whenever I’m in Egypt, I get chills just thinking, “Jesus Himself may have been in this exact place where I’m standing now.” It’s amazing that our Savior found refuge in Egypt, and that He blessed our land and people. That’s why June 1, when we celebrate the Flight of the Holy Family, is such a huge deal for all of us. With that in mind, I’m excited to share the reflections of Dr. Joseph Faltas. Dr. Faltas holds a Ph.D in Philosophy from the Faculty of Theology, Athens University in Greece. He also has a postgraduate degree from the same university in Patristic Studies, and he has spent over 30 years conducting highly specialized research on the early Church fathers. Dr. Faltas has worked with the Orthodox Patristic Center; beyond this, he led the Ecumenical Studies Unit of the Coptic Center for Social Studies, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. I am extremely grateful for the Church history and wisdom that Dr. Faltas shares with us on an almost daily basis; it shapes our work. — Nermien Riad
Fleeing … Escaping
On the fast-approaching date of June 1, our Coptic Orthodox Church throughout the world celebrates one of its seven minor feasts of Christ: the Feast of His Entry into the Land of Egypt, escaping from Herod.
The minor feasts of Christ commemorate events of Our Lord Christ’s life. The Church always sets them before us to enhance our spiritual life and our salvation, so that we live as Jesus did.
The Holy Family sought refuge in Egypt to avoid the evil wrath of Herod, who killed the infants of Bethlehem. However, the advent of Our Lord Christ to the Land of Egypt granted it divine peace and reassurance. Everyone who believes in Him will always live in peace regardless of all circumstances; he’ll be a witness to the living faith of the Mighty God, the Pantocrator.
Christ’s Flight to Egypt
We wonder: If the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt was an escape, was it then an indication of Christ’s passive flight? Certainly not; it was a temporary escape from evil, an initiative of His salvation of humankind and an overwhelming blessing to the entire world. This escape resulted in having a faithful people and Church across the ages — a deep-rooted faith in Egyptians’ hearts, especially among ordinary people. His escape proved to the contemporary world their devotion to Him, who fled for them. Indeed, there is not a trace of doubt associated with His blessed flight.
An Alternative Escape
In stark contrast with Christ’s positive escape, there is a negative kind of escape manifested in rejecting responsibility, cooperation, or even feeling for others. This kind of escape has nothing in common with Christ’s flight to the Land of Egypt. Hence, this type of escape implies a rejection of the blessings of the flight to Egypt, a flight which empowers large numbers of present-day children to avoid the darkness of ignorance. This is the flight that, through faith and the Church, enables girls and young women to stand fast against pressures to drop out of school, lifts up high achievers to pursue success, and supports fatherless families in leading a secure life, instead of escaping into the unknown.
Let’s celebrate Christ’s entrance into the Land of Egypt; let’s flee to the Land of Egypt and share together the rejoicing in His escape — for our sake, and for us in the Land of Egypt.
— Dr. Joseph Faltas