I call this the “In Between Time.”
The weeks between the ending of Christmastide and the beginning of Lent are Ordinary Time in the Catholic Church, both figuratively and actually speaking. with the exception of the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and a handful of saint feast days and memorials, it’s a pretty basic stretch lasting almost eight weeks.
It’s a quiet time that makes me think about the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt.
There is no accurate account of how long they stayed in the land of Pyramids. Some estimates say a couple of years; some claim it could have been as much as seven years.
Regardless, they were out of the picture in the sense that we don’t really know exactly what their day-to-day lives were like. Of course it couldn’t have been a picnic – they were in hiding from the greedy, self-centered, ruthless Herod who was so paranoid of losing any bit of his power that he killed his own two sons, much less a Jewish baby he didn’t even know.
The Holy Family was in Egypt savoring the happenings and implications of the Nativity and gaining strength and courage for what was to come – our Lord’s Passion and Crucifixion.
This In Between Time is a good time for us to travel to our own personal Egypt as well.
It’s good for us to savor the happenings and implications of the Nativity. What most touched our hearts during these past weeks of Christmas? How did we spend them? Who reached out to us? To who did we reach out? What impressions are still left in us? Did we give the Christ Child the homage he deserved? Did we allow ourselves to fully feel his incredible love for us?
It’s not too late to consider (or reconsider) these things.
This In Between Time is also a good time to gather strength and courage for what is to come – Lent and the commemoration of our Lord’s Passion and Crucifixion.
Most often, Lent falls on us like a sudden cloudburst. We think we’re thinking about it, and then all of a sudden we’re in the middle of it wondering what we should give up, do, or sacrifice .
Fleeing to Egypt will give us the chance to re-examine what we’ve been given at Christmas and to weigh its impact on our minds and souls. If we see how we’ve been made different because of the Child’s Birth, we’ll gain greater understanding of who we are as Christians. The cliche about counting your blessings holds much truth, especially when we look back at the Nativity. Whether we recognize them or not, we were indeed given countless blessings.
Here’s another thing about the Flight to Egypt and this In Between Time.
While the Holy Family was in Egypt, everything was foreign to them – customs, foods, language, resources, way of life. They had to discover every part of their lives anew.
This In Between Time is the perfect opportunity for us to look at what’s foreign to us and discover every part of our lives anew as well. I’m not talking about making a physical move. I’m referring to a mental and spiritual move. I’m talking about discovering every part of our lives anew.
As if we ourselves had fled to Egypt.
Depending on how we spend the In Between Time, it can be just an ordinary, uneventful time or it can be a productive time of looking back and preparing for what’s ahead.