June 2011 Letter
In our celebration of the Holy Fifty days, we should not forget our celebration with one of our Lord’s minor feasts, which is the feast of His entry into the land of Egypt, which we celebrate every year on 24 Bashans (first of June). It gave us the great blessing of Jesus Christ choosing our beloved Egypt, among all other countries adjacent to his hometown of Bethlehem, to escape the wrath of Herod to kill her children while trying to kill Christ.
It may be appropriate given the difficult circumstances experienced by Egypt now to remember some important facts about this feast:
Why was His decision to flee to Egypt in particular, while it wasn’t the easiest or the nearest country to travel? Choice was certainly intended by God for a blessing.
Proof of this is that the Old Testament prophesied of this trip hundreds of years before. Isaiah the prophet says: “Behold, the Lord rides on a swift cloud, And will come into Egypt; The idols of Egypt will totter at His presence, And the heart of Egypt will melt in its midst” (Isaiah 19: 1).
And again Isaiah in the same chapter confirms the blessing of the Lord to Egypt in saying: “whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed is Egypt My people” (Isaiah 19: 25).
And even the Old Testament prophesized also His return from Egypt according to the prophecy of Hosea the prophet: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son” (Hosea 11: 1), a prophecy that Matthew the evangelist later mentioned in his Gospel in his narrative of the events of birth: “and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt I called My Son”(Matthew 2: 15).
When He arrived in Egypt, why did He not settle in one place in a big city for example, disappearing in the midst of its population, and therefore would be impossible to find Him? Why did He roam in many areas? We discovered that every place where the Holy Family settled turned into a monastery or a church. Again this indicates that it is a deliberate choice for blessing.
Details of this trip were recorded by Pope Theophilis (Patriarch 23), when the Virgin Mary appeared to him and told him the details of the trip and he in turn recorded it.
Asking you to remember the whole church, whether in Egypt or abroad in your prayers, and remember His Holiness the Pope and the Bishops and priests, and all our brothers there, and may the blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius, and the blessings of the holy resurrection and these 50 Holy days be with us always Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim & Fr. Luke Istafanous
Belleville, June 1, 2011