In today’s passage (Matthew 2.12-23) we see both the wise men and the holy family returning by another way. There are no neat endings to the nativity narrative because it isn’t an ending at all, it’s a beginning. A beginning of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. A beginning of a new chapter in God’s relationship with humankind. The beginning of the new covenant.
But let’s pause for a moment to look at this returning by another way – the end of the beginning, if you will. No-one returns from their encounter with Jesus the same way they arrive. The shepherds go on their way praising God. The wise men return by another way. Mary and Joseph flee to save their young son. Everyone is changed by their part in the nativity story. Everyone is changed by their encounter with Christ.
And so are we. We do not go on from an encounter with Jesus in the same way we came to it. We are changed, made new, transformed. We seek Christ and when we find him, that is not an ending of our journey, but a new beginning.