a OBSERVATÓRIO DA PAX: Were Jesus, Mary and Joseph refugees? Yes | James Martin, SJ

domingo, 31 de dezembro de 2017

Were Jesus, Mary and Joseph refugees? Yes | James Martin, SJ

With refugees and migrants in the news, some commentators have sought to draw parallels between their plight and that of the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary and Joseph. How accurate are these comparisons? Were Jesus, Mary and Joseph what we would consider today “refugees”?

Yes.

In the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, we read the story of the “Flight into Egypt” in which, after the birth of Jesus and the visit from the Magi, an “angel of the Lord” comes to Joseph in a dream and warns him to leave Bethlehem for Egypt (Mt 2:12-15). Why? Because King Herod was planning to “seek out the child to destroy him.” Mary and Joseph do leave, along with Jesus, and, according to Matthew, make their way into Egypt. Afterward, King Herod slaughters all the male children in Bethlehem under two years of age. This dramatic episode is part of the Gospel reading for the “Feast of the Holy Innocents,” celebrated on Dec. 28.

So, according to the Gospel of Matthew, what is going on? A family is forced to flee their homeland for fear of persecution. This is the classic modern-day definition of a refugee. In fact, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees defines that group of people as follows:

A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

The Holy Family, as Matthew recounts the story, was fleeing because of a “well-founded fear of persecution” because of their “membership in a particular social group,” in this case people with young children living in Bethlehem. I am not sure how you could get any clearer than that.

Did Joseph and Mary apply for official refugee status? Of course not. Those kinds of regulations were most likely not in effect. There may not have even been any borders at the time. (Mais ...)

America. The Jesuit Review

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