Monday, December 24, 2007

El Jesus, the illegal

Advent is a season embedded in the Christian calendar when we are taught lessons about waiting, a waiting that leads us to Christmas and the arrival of the child we've been longing to receive and greet.

Toward the chronological end of the narratives of the birth of Jesus we discover these words:

"When they had gone [the Magi], an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.' So, he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod" (Matthew 2:13-15a).

King Herod, the Jewish leader, issued a binding executive order that all the male children two-years-old and under in the environs of Bethlehem be executed. No doubt, to defy such an order would have been illegal and likely a capital offense.

Border security being lacking between Israel and Egypt allowed Joseph to become a migrant refugee in a foreign nation that shared a border to the south with his homeland.

This story always reminds me of friends I made in New Orleans and here in Dallas who fled to the U. S., usually without documentation, seeking safety from the death squads of Guatemala and El Salvador in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Overall though, the story reveals that Jesus himself, as a very young child, was the equivalent of an undocumented immigrant in Egypt. In many ways he was illegal.

Somehow this Christmas I'm believing the story could be instructional for people of faith as we continue to consider the issues associated with undocumented residents of our communities who've come seeking better lives, safety and new hope.

What do you think?



Raquel said...

I think, who wouldn't?

If my husband took off and I was left to raise our 6 children alone, in a broken economy (or worse, in war) I would ABSOLUTELY attempt to immigrate into a county with a school system, food, sanitary housing, and employment. Over and over if need be. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Have you seen 'Wetback' yet?

Raquel said...

btw, I heard on NPR yesterday that hate crime against latinos has gone up 33% in the last six years and the sociologists beleive that it's due to the immigration debate going on right now.

SeriousSummer said...

The image of Christ is visible equally in all of us. Foreigner as well as friend.

KP said...

Two issues:
1. They left for Egypt before Herod ordered the children slaughtered

2. The Bible does not say they were illegal immigrants. It says they left for and stayed in Egypt until Herod died.

Larry James said...

KP--isn't legalism a wonderful and convenient paradigm? So grand when the imagination and poetic license can be scraped.