In his Gospel account, St. Matthew tells us that just after the Magi gave their gifts to the child Jesus, Joseph was told to take the child and his mother, Mary, and flee to Egypt. As Matthew puts it: “… behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you. Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him. Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod” (2:13-15).
Given what is happening right now in the Middle East and in Europe, it occurs to me that we should see that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees. They were not immigrating; they were refugees fleeing from the death and destruction that King Herod was unleashing in Palestine. They had to gather up a few of their possessions and flee in haste, just like today’s refugees. Once again, events in the Bible are repeating themselves in their own way in our world today.
Too many people think the Bible is composed of nothing but tales and myths that have no relevance to the world in which we live. They are wrong. Secular history, we are told, repeats itself. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, historical biblical events have real relevance to what is happening in our own lives.
The flight of the Holy Family is often depicted on Christmas cards in soft, lovely, pastel hues. The reality of what the Holy Family endured was far from lovely. It must have been gritty and painful. Their suffering should cause us to contemplate the suffering we see depicted in the news reports of our day – the pictures of today’s refugees fleeing in haste from being brutalized in their own countries, cities and villages. Look at the faces we see in pictures of refugees and see the faces of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
We view the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and see them as holy. Can we see the holiness in the refugees of our day? Too often they are regarded as threats. They are feared and kept behind fences. Even though they are powerless, they are regarded as threats. Underneath their appearances, we should see them as God’s children; we should see them as our own brothers and sisters, members of our family of faith.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to try and see today’s refugees as God sees them. It might change our perspective.