In two weeks’ time, we will read of an unmarried couple, whispered about in their community, seeking to fulfill the demands of the law. The place where they are legally required to file paperwork is full of outsiders. Even though there are many related to them by blood, faith, or other ties, they end up in the spare space that belongs to generous strangers.
That night, the woman undergoes the most dangerous thing that would happen in her life: she gives birth. Strange men come to see her and talk about night visions in the sky. Stranger men come from further away, later, and tell her of the danger to her and her baby. Her partner has also perceived this danger and they flee. They flee to a place that had enslaved their ancestors, but there they find safety.
This is the story of the holy family. Our Advent prayer must be for God to birth in us the welcome and openness of the shepherds, the magi, and the Egyptian community. And for God to let die in us the fear of the other, the urge toward purity through shutting out others, and the hesitation to welcome difference in our communities.
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