Jesus Christ was an Immigrant
Following the appearance of the Wise Men in Israel, King Herod decreed that all male children under the age of two must be killed. Prior to this directive, Jesus’ adoptive father, Joseph, had been warned by an angel to flee Israel with Mary and the young boy Jesus. The Holy Family thus became immigrants, walking southward through the rocky terrain of Palestine until they reached the land of Egypt.While the scriptural canon provides no concrete details regarding the journey or the family’s stay in this foreign land, one can imagine the privation, hardship, and uncertainty that must have accompanied such an undertaking. Mary, herself still an adolescent, and Joseph, her young husband, likely sorrowed over the extended separation from their families, friends, and familiar food and customs. As they appear to have left Israel with little notice, they were probably unable to make plans for earning a livelihood, obtaining housing, or other necessities of life. I like to imagine our Heavenly Parents guiding Mary and Joseph through the Holy Spirit, illuminating their minds as to where they could safely camp for the night, how to make their limited rations stretch until Joseph could begin his own planting or start working for another household, and whom they should approach for assistance in the interim.
Although it is not known how long the young family remained in Egypt, it is reasonable to conjecture that Jesus’ childhood experience as a refugee in a foreign land informed his great sermon on charity:
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. . . .Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (St. Matthew 25: 35-40)
It is my belief that, like the Holy Family, God at times inspires women and men to migrate to other nations so that they might fulfill God’s purposes in those lands. With anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. at an all-time high, perhaps as we approach this Christmas season we might all take a moment or two to reflect on the experience of not only the Baby Jesus, but the Immigrant Jesus, as well.
Lesesne Wells, “The Flight Into Egypt,” oil on canvas, 1930.