12 Days of Christmas Reflection Series – Day 7
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem the town of the good king David to whom Joseph also belonged.
Birthplace is a piece of important information to each person. It can also identify the person or his attitude or goals in life. Jesus was born in a place called the house of bread – Bethlehem.
In giving assurance and convincing the people about his message, Jesus declared that he is the bread of life, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35). In his ministry, the Bible also tells us about the feeding of 5000 people who were hungry. He is also the bead broken for all men (women and children).
We can pick and give some examples of many names and places and their meanings and origins.
The name Salzburg, in Austria, means “Salt Castle”. The name derives from the barges carrying salt on the River Salzach, which were subject to a toll in the 8th century as was customary for many communities and cities on European rivers.
The name Philippines was derived from the Spanish name Filipe or Philip in English, and specifically in honor of King Philippe II, the King of Spain. The Philippines is a name associated with its being a colony of Spain with all those sad stories of oppression and the good stories of Filipino people’s resistance against colonialism and foreign intervention until today.
Our birthplace does not only have meaning and stories associated with it as in Jesus. We are also very much connected to our birthplaces. “There is no place like home”, many people said.
For many, Christmas is also a time for homecoming, but many people cannot be home.
There are many stories we left at home that we are always longing to be back wherever we are. Many Jewish people in Biblical times are living in the diaspora but they are coming home to Israel, in the city of Judah to celebrate their Passover every year.
People left their birthplaces, their hometowns for many reasons. The majority, if not all of them, are forced to leave their countries to survive and not at all for the quest of a greener pasture. There are those who leave because of war, famine, or life safety. Many of them left because of poverty in their home countries, they are now in other countries and are forced to serve foreign masters trying to adjust to an environment that is not natural for them and to struggle to learn a language that their tongue is not designed to speak.
They are the migrants and immigrants. Many of them are branded by the law as illegal migrants, and undocumented – the invisible in society. Many of them have become victims of various kinds of exploitation – from salary, hate speech, racism, sexual violence, gender preferences but cannot go home and die of poverty.
No, they are not here and there to find Jesus the bread of life. They are here to find Bethlehem, the house of bread to feed themselves and their families left at home.
But we can make them find Bethlehem and see Jesus the bread of life in us because we are the church, the body of Christ. We are the bread broken for all men. Let us be available for them not only this Christmas but every day of our lives.
Hamburg, 31st December 2021, The Seventh day of Christmas