Sure, Jesus Was a Refugee. He Nonetheless Is. | RELEVANT Journal

On Christmas, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg re-opened the controversy about Jesus’ refugee standing by posting a Christmas tweet to his followers, that learn “today I join millions around the world in celebrating the arrival of divinity on earth, who came into this world not in riches but in poverty, not as a citizen but as a refugee.”

A seemingly benign assertion however in these politicized instances, nothing is ever utterly benign. The topic of immigration being what it’s in the USA, many on Twitter spent their Christmas counter-posting about Buttigieg’s evaluation of Jesus’ refugee standing.

Conservative blogger Matt Walsh mentioned

We’ve lined all this earlier than right here at RELEVANT earlier than, but it surely’s value mentioning a number of factors right here for readability.

To begin with, our fashionable immigration system merely isn’t similar to the one in historical Rome. Jesus was born throughout a very tumultuous time in historical past, as Caesar Augustus’ huge attain was spreading at a speedy tempo because the nation remodeled from a republic into an empire. A lot of all the international inhabitants’s citizenship standing was in flux. Judea was underneath the jurisdiction of Herod the Nice, who was often known as a “client king” of Caesar highly effective however saved in verify by higher-ups.

So when Caesar instructed everybody to go again to their hometown for a nationwide census, Mary and Joseph had been following orders. In that sense, Walsh is right that Jesus wasn’t born in a rustic his dad and mom weren’t legally allowed to be, though it’s value noting that he’s incorrect about Joseph’s monetary standing. We all know from Luke 2:22-24 that Mary and Joseph introduced doves to the temple as a substitute of the customary lamb, which is a provision Jewish legislation made for poor households who couldn’t afford a sheep. Jesus was, for at the least a part of his life, a member of a poor household.

When most individuals speak about Jesus being a refugee, they’re not speaking about Bethelem however the household’s flight to Egypt. A while after his delivery, Herod bought panicky about rumors of a brand new king and despatched troopers to kill all of the newborns in Bethlehem. An angel warned Joseph and Mary to hightail it to Egypt the place they may safely lay low. Egypt made for a perfect hiding place, related to Judea through a well-traveled and comparatively secure commerce route often known as the By way of Maris.

The argument for Mary and Joseph’s refugee standing right here is about as robust because it may very well be underneath the circumstances. It’s true that Egypt had just lately come underneath Roman rule, so whereas Mary and Joseph had been fleeing Herod’s jurisdiction they had been nonetheless in the identical Roman empire, however since many of the recognized world was a part of the Roman empire, that’s a distinction with out a lot of a distinction. Mary and Joseph had been displaced by a violent authorities and sought refuge in a international land. The United Nations Excessive Commissioner for Refugees says {that a} refugee is somebody who has been compelled to flee his or her nation due to persecution, warfare, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded concern of persecution for causes of race, faith, nationality, political opinion or membership in a selected social group.

Plus, as Father James Martin notes, “refugee” is within the precise biblical textual content. The angel’s phrase for “flee” in Matthew 2:13 is pheuge, from the place we get our fashionable “refugee”.

However this type of hair-splitting will get just a little within the weeds. The writers of Matthew and Luke exit of their manner many times to spotlight simply how lonely and alienating the delivery of Jesus was. Whereas Bethlehem was Joseph’s hometown, there’s surprisingly no reference to any members of the family current for the delivery. We don’t know why Joseph left his hometown, however he might have confronted financial hardship or maybe his household didn’t need to be concerned with the delivery of a child they’d have thought of to be conceived out of wedlock. In any case, when Jesus got here, it was as a stranger.

Jesus Himself would hammer this level dwelling in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

The Greek phrase for “stranger” right here is xenos, which extra precisely means “foreigner.” It’s the place we get our fashionable phrase “xenophobia.” Jesus made it clear to his disciples that not solely was he a stranger, however He was manifested within the hungry, the imprisoned, the homeless and, sure, the refugee. “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” He continued phrases that ought to give nearly anybody pause who hears them.

The query of Jesus’ refugee standing as a child is an fascinating one traditionally and may result in lots of hair-splittings. It’s actually notable that Jesus selected to enter the world the best way that He did, and tells us one thing essential about His mission and ministry.

Nevertheless it’s at the least as essential to notice that Jesus is nonetheless a refugee, per His personal phrases. He’s on the lookout for work, saving up cash to deliver His household over. He’s detained on the border, ready for a lawyer to take up His case. And He’s ready in a refugee camp, hoping that His papers undergo. Walsh and Buttigieg’s argument over whether or not or not Jesus in Judea is barely helpful insofar because it motivates them and us to deal with the least of those with compassion immediately.

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