It's that time of year once more, when we retell the wonderful ancient story - of Jesus the asylum-seeker and refugee.
As is well known, Jesus and his parents had to flee to Egypt, the nearest safe country, to escape Herod's policy of 'post-natal termination' for all first born.
The Flight Into Egypt by Anibale Carracci.
But many people believe that the Holy Family then moved on across several continents, passing through many safe countries, before claiming asylum in the country of their choice - the country with the largest number of support groups, free housing and healthcare, and welcoming elites.
May I present -
Bishop Of Norwich -
"Herod kills all the young children in his attempt to destroy this newborn king. So Mary and Joseph escape to Egypt rather than returning to their home town and Jesus immediately becomes a refugee.
That's one of the things about the Christmas story that makes it contemporary. In Norfolk we count refugees, asylum seekers and migrant workers among our neighbours."
The Guardian's Karen Armstrong -
"There is no room for the holy family in the inn; in Matthew's gospel, Jesus becomes a refugee"
Ekklesia (Guardian Readers at prayer) -
"Jesus too was an asylum seeker"
The Age, Australia
So Jesus, the prophesied saviour, spent the first years of his life as a refugee, knowing fear and depending on the kindness and hospitality of strangers (also "Joseph and Mary were members of a small nation conquered by a global superpower.").
Bishop of Lichfield -
A Church of England bishop has attacked "sentimental" Christmas card portrayals of the Nativity, saying that Jesus's family were asylum seekers and the three Wise Men were part of an assassination plot.
Department Of Education -
UK Government "stimulus and activity sheet exploring the theme of Jesus as an asylum seeker" for use in UK schools.
Revd Jonathan Clark, Independent
"I think we forget that Jesus was an asylum seeker himself"
And a big shout for the Bishop of Worcester (twinned with Sodom)
"When Christmas happened, the violence of the Roman super-power gave way to the reign of the Prince of Peace and the force of a violent occupation had to yield to the weakness of a baby."
What could he be talking about ?
UPDATE - a commenter wants to know why I'm only picking on the CofE. I just went for the first stories I found on Google - life's too short to number all the people who say 'Hey ! Jesus was an asylum-seeker, too !' with the air of someone saying something 'new', 'radical', even 'transgressive'. Such people are numberless as the stars in the sky, or sand on the seashore.
But here goes ...
Catholic Weekly, Australia -
"Jesus was an asylum seeker, too"
Australian Catholic Migrant And Refugee Office -
"The Gospel presentation of the Holy Family as a refugee family and of Jesus Christ as a refugee before He was two years old is before us, so clearly, as we tonight participate in our Refugee Sunday service."
Let me check - Refugee Sunday - isn't that the third Sunday after Easter ? A historic Feast of the Church. "Shrive me now, Lord Bishop, I must away to Mass. Wit ye not 'tis Refugee Sunday ?"
Pope Benedict Blog
"Jesus himself will be remembered as an asylum seeker and immigrant."
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