Let us reflect on the reality that God’s very Self became human and was born into a family, not in a palace grand, but in a lowly manger. When I reflect on the Holy Family my mind turns to the very real and very human struggles they faced…not only having to give birth in a stable but the fact that they had to flee to Egypt to avoid Herod’s execution of the children of Bethlehem and the surrounding region.
It is almost unconceivable to think that God was made a refugee and had to flee to a foreign country from where he was born to avoid becoming a victim of genocide.
And that ultimately Mary would have her heart pierced when her Son would be executed by the state. And so Mary too understands the suffering of mothers and fathers who have lost children to war, violence and sickness. So as we celebrate the Holy Family let us know that our God understands the struggles of human families and that “God is with us”…Emmanuel…in the midst of our struggles.
Let us know that God journeys with the migrants, refugees and immigrants of this world, just as we are called to do.
So as we draw near to them, we draw near to God! As we advocate and work to help our immigrant and refugee sisters and brothers, we do so with Christ who knows first hand their struggles and who works with us and shares with them on their journey.
What struggling families might I be able to reach out to in order to ease their struggles? How might I be Christ to those who struggle in life?
Somewhere in the story of the Holy Family there is a message for us today about those who are made refugees; those who are driven from their homeland by war and violence and poverty, seeking safety and a better life for themselves and their children.
In a country that more and more shuns refugees and immigrants I wonder if we would have received Joseph, Mary and Jesus? Over and over again in the Gospels Jesus warns us that our treatment of others is in fact our treatment of God! Jesus told his followers that when we welcome the stranger we welcome him! And likewise, when we turn away the stranger we turn away Christ!
We, as a country, so often invoke the name of God…but do we as a nation really understand the implications of proclaiming that “we are one nation under God”? Do our elected members of the House and Senate really understand that? Do they show it by the laws they enact or those they block from becoming law?
How many millions of people fall though the economic safety net of this country and are forced to exist, not live, in unbelievable conditions because of the callousness and political aspirations of our elected officials in Congress and those who elect them?
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy family and fix our eyes upon the peaceful manger scene, let us never forget that this family we gaze upon was once driven from their homeland and made refugees in an alien land.
As we, as a country, fight for economic and social reform and comprehensive immigration reform I believe that the reality of the Holy Family’s struggles may be fertile ground for further reflection.
Estimates say that during the 20th Century well over 50,000,000 people died because of acts of genocide at the hands of political leaders, rival tribes and oppressive nation-states.
And wars and genocide continue…think of Ukraine, Sudan, Palestine and Israel, Ethiopia and what looms on the horizon for the war-wearied people of those countries. Still today people seek refuge from genocide as well as poverty, famine, and corrupt governments.
Traditionally we hear the Gospel telling the story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus fleeing Herod’s execution of all of Bethlehem’s young children. As we ponder their flight into Egypt, fleeing the certain death of their infant child, I cannot help but marvel at the concept that our very God, having become human, was being hunted down to be killed — even as a helpless infant!
Somewhere in this story there is a message for us today about those who are made refugee. Those who are driven from their homeland by war and violence and poverty, seeking safety and a better life for themselves and their children.
There is a message that the infant Jesus is telling us, but are we listening?