By Bishop Kevin J. Farrell
Publisher of The Texas Catholic
Stop for a moment and reflect on the nativity scene that you have carefully arranged in your home, or the Christmas Pageant that your children were in at the school. What does it really mean? Are we so used to seeing the depiction of the infant Jesus lying in a crib in a stable with Mary and Joseph, that it has become just another Christmas decoration along with the tree? Has its true meaning has been lost to us?
We are not only seeing a depiction of the coming of the Prince of Peace, celebrated by shepherds and wise men from the East, we are seeing a family forced to leave their home by a government edict, a refugee family, denied the dignity of a decent place for the mother to give birth, who finally takes refuge in a stable where their newborn son’s resting place is a feeding trough for animals. They are a father and mother who, to protect their child, will soon be forced to flee to another country to escape a tyrant’s sword.
Do we realize that it also represents the reality being lived out today by a growing number of refugees, forced to flee their home by a bloody civil war, or driven out because of their Christian faith. Do we see the Holy Family in the seemingly endless procession of refugees trekking across Europe seeking refuge or risking death crossing the sea in rubber rafts and boats that are little more than flotsam and jetsam. Have we succumbed to the repetition of the videos so often that we have been numbed to the reality.
Do we recognize the innkeeper in Bethlehem who turned Mary and Joseph away in those who would deny refuge in our city or state based on unreasoning fear? Do we see the stable in the camps where row upon row of cubicles or tents become home for families and individuals for years while awaiting a place of refuge?
Are we among those who see Jesus, Mary and Joseph in those desperate people and plead for our government to replace fear with compassion and not punish the victims as if they were the perpetrators?
These refugees from the turmoil in the Middle East who are coming to the United States, to Texas, are not the enemy. They have been thoroughly investigated over years by the FBI, Homeland Security and the United Nations.
As Americans, as Christians we cannot and will not refuse them refuge. In doing so, we may well be guilty of the indifference of the Bethlehem innkeeper who saw Joseph and Mary, not as people, but as a problem to be disposed of.
I pray that God will bless all of us this Christmas especially those most in need. I wish you the joy and peace of that first Noel when the Christ Child was born to save us all.