The Flight into Egypt and Return to Nazareth
When all was fulfilled according to the Law concerning Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem, and the wise men were already on the road to their home, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Arise, and take the young Child and His Mother, and flee into Egypt, and lie thou there until I bring thee word, for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
Joseph immediately arose, saddled his donkey, quickly gathered the necessary things, took the young Child and His Mother, and the same night went into Egypt. According to tradition, James, son of Joseph, accompanied them on this journey.
In the meantime, Herod impatiently awaited the return of the wise men. When the wise men did not return from Bethlehem, he concluded that the wise men, not finding a newborn king, were ashamed to return to Jerusalem. For the time being, Herod was tranquil.
But after forty days the news spread throughout Jerusalem that Mary had presented in the Temple Her newborn Son, and that the aged Simeon had come to the Temple to meet this Child and had prophesied that He was the Christ. Then, Herod realized that the wise men had figured out his evil intent and had purposely avoided returning to him. He was exceedingly angry.
Not knowing how to find the Christ Child, King Herod gave the disastrous order to kill all the children that were in Bethlehem and its surroundings from two years old and under. He hoped that among these children would be killed the Christ. Thus he calculated according to the time when he had diligently questioned the wise men. The soldiers sent by Herod killed 14,000 children. Everywhere were heard the howls and screams of the mothers whose crying for their children, innocent children, killed by the order of the brutal King would never have been comforted. They were the first martyrs to spill their blood for Christ.
Soon after this, Herod was punished for his cruelty. He came down with a terrible illness. His body rotted alive and was eaten by worms, and he died in terrible torment.
After the death of Herod, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Arise, and take the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for they are dead which sought the young Child’s life.” Joseph did as he was told and took his family into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned in Judea in the place of Herod, his father, and that he was just as much cruel, Joseph was afraid to go there. Being warned of God in a dream, Joseph turned aside into the parts of Galilee, into his native city Nazareth. There Joseph dwelt with the child Jesus and His Mother.
The child Jesus grew and became strong in spirit and filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. From the earliest years of His childhood, Jesus Christ exhibited unusual intelligence and remarkable sanctity in all His actions.
Note: See the Gospels of Matthew, 2:13-23 and Luke, 2:40.