John_ChrysostomNow the angel having thus appeared, talks not with Mary, but with Joseph, and says… “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt” (Matthew 2:13).

And he mentions the cause of the flight: “For Herod,” he says, “will seek the young Child’s life.”

Joseph, when he had heard these things, was not offended, and did not say, “The thing is hard to understand; did you not say just now that He would save His people? and now He saves not even Himself, but we must fly, and go far from home, and be a long time away – the facts are contrary to the promise.”

Joseph does not say any of these things (for the man was faithful); neither is he curious about the time of his return; and this though the angel had put it indefinitely thus: “Be thou there until I tell thee.”

But nevertheless, not even at this did he shudder, but submits and obeys, undergoing all the trials with joy. And this because God, who is full of love to man, mingled pleasant things with these hardships.

This indeed is His way with regard to all the saints, making neither their dangers nor their refreshment continual, but weaving the life of all righteous men, out of both the one and the other.

This very thing He did here also. For consider, Joseph saw the Virgin with child. This cast him into agitation and the utmost trouble, for he was suspecting the damsel of adultery.

But straightway the angel was at hand to do away his suspicion, and remove his fears; and seeing the young child born, he reaped the greatest joy.

Again, no trifling danger succeeds this joy, the city being troubled, and the king in his madness seeking after Him that was born. But this trouble was again succeeded by another joy: the star, and the adoration of the wise men.

Again, after this pleasure, fear and danger: “For Herod,” saith he, “is seeking the young Child’s life,” and He must needs fly and withdraw Himself as any mortal might; the working of miracles not being seasonable as yet.

For if from His earliest infancy He had shown forth wonders, He would not have been accounted a Man. Because of this, let me add, neither is a temple framed at once; but a regular conception takes place, and a time of nine months, and pangs, and a delivery, and giving suck, and silence for so long a space, and He awaits the age proper to manhood; that by all means acceptance might be won for the mystery of His Economy.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on the Gospel According to St Matthew, 8, 4.