Reflections on Matthew 2
The nativity narrative in the gospel of Matthew goes beyond the birth of Jesus to give us a peek into the early life of his family. Despite a joyous birth and warm welcome from shepherds, travelers from afar, and faithful prophets in the temple, there was one person who was not celebrating. King Herod’s jealousy of a newborn king turned a joyous celebration into a frightful drama. Overnight, Mary and Joseph’s lives were turned upside down as they were forced to flee beyond the political reach of a cruel king who threatened the life of their son.
In modern terms, a refugee is someone who flees their home country due to fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Given the circumstances surrounding their flight to Egypt, the Holy Family met at least a couple of these grounds, and would be considered refugees today. What incredible hope it took for Joseph and Mary to pack up all of their belongings and flee, following the best path they knew in order to keep their family safe!
Millions of people around the globe are forced to make similar choices every year due to war, political unrest, and many other forms of violence and danger that prevail in a broken world. Refugees make hope their home. Like the family of the Christ child, they choose to press forward into the unknown with a hopeful expectation of a safer tomorrow.
Modern Migration tie in:
- How can we see Christ in our refugee neighbors, or other neighbors facing displacement?
- How would we describe his parents’ choice to flee to another country to save their lives? Does this differ from the way we describe the choices made by parents today when they take dangerous journeys for the sake of their children?
- In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us that the way we treat the vulnerable is the way we treat him. What actions can we take this holiday season to welcome the stranger in the same way we would welcome Jesus in our midst?
A prayer for hope:
We are in awe that you would choose an embodied existence on this earth not in luxurious palaces but in the form of a refugee fleeing for your life.
We are grieved that so many individuals and families today face the same terrifying choice that your family endured generations ago. We ask that you be near in their sorrow and in their anxiety.
You know what it feels like to be crushed by the weight of corrupt political leaders. Bring your comfort to the oppressed in our world today.
We pray for your hope in the refugee camps, in the boats bracing the choppy waters of the Mediterranean, and at the borders that divide us.
Lord, be near.