About 20 years ago, I was hired to represent a young man in his mid-20s who had been charged with the crime of arson. He had set fire to the house of a man who had “stolen” his girlfriend away from him. (For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call my client “James.”)
The crime was committed while James was drunk. He had not planned on burning the house down. He impulsively started the fire after he broke into the house to take back what he said his girlfriend (who was living with the man) had taken from him.
James made certain admissions to the police when the crime was being investigated, so there was no way he was going to be able to convince a jury that he was not guilty of the crime. I worked out an agreement with the prosecuting attorney that allowed James to plead guilty to arson, with a cap on his sentence to no more than five years in prison. (At that time, arson was a Class 2 felony that was punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of not less than 3 years and not more than 7 years.)
At the sentencing hearing, I called various friends and members of James’s family to testify on his behalf. I felt that there was a good chance that James would receive a sentence of less than five years, but unfortunately, the judge became angry after he caught James lying to him.
The judge ended up sentencing James to five years in prison. It was a good thing that I got the prosecuting attorney to agree to a five year cap on the sentence, or the judge would have sentenced him to more than five years.
After the hearing, when I walked out of the courtroom with James’s parents, his mother broke down and started crying uncontrollably. Prior to that time, James’s mother had exhibited heroic strength and courage, but the realization that her son was going to prison overwhelmed her.
James’s mother was in great distress over the fact that her son was going to be in danger. She was worried about other prisoners abusing him. He was not the type of man — mentally or physically — who would be able to stand up to and deal with hardened criminals.
One of the worst feelings for a mother is when she knows her child is in danger but is unable to fully protect the child from harm.
That’s what our Blessed Mother had to go through during the early years of her Son’s life. She knew that the government was hunting for her Son with the intention of killing Him. There was no court of law that she and St. Joseph could turn to in order to put a halt to the hunt. They had no other choice but to flee to a foreign country:
Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. Matthew 2:13-14.
Where did they stay on their way to Egypt? They couldn’t travel on an airplane or train, or in a car or bus. All they had was a mule to help lighten their load.
How were they going to be able to communicate with their families? Would they ever get to see their families again?
What happened to St. Joseph’s carpentry business? How was he able to establish a new home in Egypt when he had no money?
The flight into Egypt is the second of The Seven Sorrows of Mary, which outlines seven different events that occurred in Mary’s life:
1. The prophecy of Simeon.
2. The flight into Egypt.
3. The loss of the child Jesus in the Temple.
4. Mary’s meeting with Jesus on the way to Calvary.
5. The death of Jesus on the cross.
6. The piercing of the side of Jesus, and Mary’s receiving the body of Jesus in her arms.
7. The burial of the body of Jesus in the tomb.
How would you react if the president of the United States ordered the killing of your infant child, and then followed through by dispatching troops to hunt him down?
Do you think your life is difficult? How would you react to all the hardships that the inexperienced young virgin was forced to endure?
There is no human on Earth who can rightfully claim that they have suffered more than the Mother of God suffered. Yet she was every bit as human as you and I.
Do you think the Blessed Mother understands your suffering? Do you think she could use her experience and influence to help you get through your challenges and struggles?
All you need to do is turn to her in prayer every day and she will rush to your side every time you need assistance.