Pope on Christmas: Bethlehem trek's like today's migrations

Pope on Christmas: Bethlehem trek's like today's migrations

Everything, that night, became a source of hope. The last plague was the death of the firstborn and Israel was spared when they painted their door jambs with the blood of a sacrificed lamb.

In conclusion, perhaps that is the most important thing to remember this Christmas. And then they arrive in Bethlehem, and Joseph forgot to reserve a king suite at the local inn! There was no place for them.

On this Sunday, immediately preceding Christmas, we hear the Gospel of the Annunciation (Cf Luke 1:26-38). When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. He came for as many as would trust in Him.

Amid the gloom of a city that had no room or place for the stranger from afar, amid the darkness of a bustling city which seemed to want to build itself up by turning its back on others... it was precisely there that the revolutionary spark of God's love was kindled.

There are many footsteps hidden in the journey of Joseph and Mary.

Similarly as a nation, as we daily face the threats of terrorism, conflicts, political uncertainties, various calamities and economic problems, may this Christmas season lead us back to see the light and put our hope in God.

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While most of us picture the Christmas scene as some attractive, serene moment, I can only imagine that it wasn't what Mary or Joseph had planned for! The child that will be born of this humble girl of Nazareth will be called Son of the Most High: it's not possible to conceive a higher dignity than this. The shepherds, amongst the least respected profession of those days, were among the first to be told the good news of Jesus' birth. So from here, already shunned due to a seemingly promiscuous lifestyle, they are forced to leave any family or friends they have left and run to another country. Their skin, their clothing, smell, way of speaking, origin... everything about them generated mistrust. Ironically, the shepherds have nothing to fear because they have nothing to lose.

They were considered pagans among the believers, sinners among the just, foreigners among the citizens. "And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.' And Mary said to the angel, 'How will this be, since I am a virgin?'" The clear distinction is that John's baptism of people in the Jordan was a religious rite, a public statement of belief that God's promise of deliverance is real, a faith action. Other times we must actively make space for God in our cluttered lives. He is present in the unwelcomed visitor, often unrecognizable, who walks through our cities and our neighborhoods, who travels on our buses and knocks on our doors. When you realize they were having a child outside of wedlock, in a culture that stoned you for such, that alone seems a bit of a "not the way I planned it" moment. "I did everything you asked, and you told me not to be afraid, and yet fear is all I know right now!"

He encouraged us to consider, "Are we filled with wonder at the mercy of God?"

We say, "the reason for the season is Jesus"!

Fellow Barbadians, it is that time of the year when again across the world we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ just upwards of 2 000 years ago. He invites us to become sentinels for all those bowed down by the despair born of encountering so many closed doors. Sadly, we forfeit, we settle, frankly, we disobey and sin by refusing to accomplish God's objective in exchange for an easier life. Why?

Moved by the joy of the gift, little Child of Bethlehem, we ask that your crying shake us from our indifference and open our eyes to those who are suffering. Hebrews 4:15 shows us that Jesus Christ thoroughly knew the agonies of life - He did not spare himself from any difficulties you or I might experience: "For we do not have a high priest who can not sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin".

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