It is difficult for us to form a clear picture of the timing of events during Our Lord’s childhood.

Although we celebrate the coming of the wise men twelve days after Christmas the fact that Herod thought it necessary to kill the male children up to the age of two suggests that the Holy Family remained in Bethlehem for some time.

However, when Herod’s evil intentions became clear Joseph had to lead Jesus and Mary to safety in Egypt, out of Herod’s reach.

Herod actually died in 4 BC as we would reckon it but mediaeval scholars got their calculations wrong!

The Romans divided his kingdom among his sons Archelaus, Philip and Antipas and annexed a fourth part under direct rule.

This year the circumstances of the Pandemic with people far away from home and family it is reassuring to know that the Holy Family experienced similar challenges.

Our Lord’s first years were spent in exile in a foreign land with only St Joseph’s craft skills to support them and afraid to return home.

We pray for all displaced and refugee families – especially those in fear for their lives – and entrust them to the care of St Joseph.