Tis the Season of ‘The Gospel of Life’
The Virgin and St. Joseph Refused Shelter in Bethlehem by Jan Massys 1558
We showed up at the Inn in Bethlehem but there was no room. The Innkeeper turned us away – my mother (nine months pregnant) and me, a little ‘preborn’ baby! I was rejected by humanity, so we sought shelter with animals, rodents and insects in the cave manger near the fields. I forgave this Innkeeper because he didn’t know what he was doing. Everyone should be more welcoming to pregnant mothers and unborn babies. Lk 2:6-7
We come now to another aspect of the Unborn Christ Child’s solidarity with many unborn children of our day, His rejection in His time of need. Caesar wanted a census taken throughout the Roman Empire for utilitarian purposes concerning power and wealth. Everyone’s lives got caught up in his imperial desire, including Joseph of Nazareth and his family. Mary was probably in her ninth month when they made this evangelical journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
According to scripture, and a star in the sky, Bethlehem is where the Messiah would be born. But the welcome the pregnant woman and her husband received in the City of David was disappointing. All that scripture relates is that Mary’s baby was placed “in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7). For two thousand years Christians have wrestled with this scene and it always seems to spell ‘rejection’ loud and clear. Rejection by the local inn keeper, implied rejection by unmentioned relatives in the vicinity and rejection by humanity in general, since they end up with animals (and angels) marginalized in a manger of rejection.
But who is rejected? A pregnant woman and her unborn child! Mary and Unborn Jesus are rejected. The Unborn Christ Child is rejected before He is even born. He shares with hundreds of millions of unborn children through the years, rejection before birth. A sad, unborn solidarity in human rejection. But, of course, baby Jesus had loving parents and was born. The birth occurs in subdued seclusion in a manger with animals, probably some rodents, lots of insects, and so on. Welcome Savior, into our human community.
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