Matthew 2:13-14 (NLT)
13 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up!
Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
14 That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother.
Because Mary is the only female in this passage, I automatically find myself wanting to identify with her. Yet when I really think about it, we actually have very little in common. I am neither a teenager, a married woman, a mother, nor subject to life or death based on my decision making skills. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress of being a teenage mother recovering from giving birth in a barn. Let alone just days later being told I need to leave immediately without time to prepare anything. But this is what God asked of Mary. And while from my millennial and earthly point of view, it was asking a lot, from His vantage point, it was another opportunity for Him to show His power in sustaining His people in even the most dire of circumstances.
On the topic of God’s power: we are often told throughout the Bible that His power is made perfect in our weakness. Mary and Joseph’s escape with Jesus makes them refugees, a status that many would say puts them in a remarkably weak position in society. It is also a status which I believe really cannot be fully understood until experienced. I like to think that this means Jesus feels a special solidarity with refugees undergoing even the most horrific of crises, not only because of his dedication to the poor and meek, but also because he and his family probably suffered through similar hardships. More likely than not, countless people turned away Jesus, Mary, and Joseph from their houses, neglected to help provide for them, and may have even discriminated against them for being foreigners. But how would people have treated them had they known that Jesus was the son of God? Or that he going to grow up and change the world both during their lifetimes and for thousands of years beyond? My guess is they would have reacted a bit differently, and may have even gone out of their way to help.
Who are we turning away, neglecting to provide for, and possibly even unfairly judging? And are we doing so simply because we perceive them as foreigners, even though they were forced to flee from their country, for reasons completely outside of their control? Most importantly, are our neglect and indifference, to blame for people in our own backyards not having the means to provide for themselves, or feeling unwanted, inadequate, or powerless? Many of these foreigners that are deemed as lesser or unwelcome are simply strangers who need our kindness. As Christians, we are called to allow our weakness of being judgmental and exclusionary toward strangers be made perfect in His power through caring for, and welcoming foreigners as if they were Jesus himself. We should listen to their stories, and hear how they came to be our physical neighbor, and not just our metaphorical one that the parables told us to love. What do we have to lose by listening to the story of a woman who was forced to leave her country just after giving birth in a primitive hospital abroad? Probably nothing. But what do we have to gain? Probably a whole lot of perspective, and maybe even a chance to understand the life of Jesus in an entirely new light.