A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The God Nobody Seemed To Want

The Messiah was predicted and longed for among the Jewish people but when God actually came among us, the light was so different from what was expected, that in our shallow human perceptions it appeared that Christ was the God that nobody seemed to want. We expected a king of this world and received a king of heaven.

In Mary’s community nobody wanted a child conceived outside of marriage. Nobody wanted that child and the burden of their care. If St Joseph disowned the pregnancy then Mary could have been stoned to death. Here God identifies with the vulnerable of this world. God is but a vulnerable baby resting on the kindness and faith of St Joseph. The truth is that Mary, born without original sin, is carrying Christ conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. The falsity is that the community would believe Mary had acted with impropriety.

At Jesus’ birth nobody wanted a Messiah whose parents were lowly and unknown. We have a sense that Joseph is very unworldly, neither using money to bribe, nor carrying about him a manner of entitlement, nor impressing the innkeeper with being known in the right places, so that he can get that fancy room. Here God identifies with the poor of this world because God is the son of a poor carpenter, a toiler and manual worker who asks for the very basic necessities. The innkeeper offers Joseph the cave out the back where the animals sleep. The truth that a king was being born in his stable would have  been so preposterous to the innkeeper that he would have laughed. He preferred to believe the falsity that before him was nothing more than a poor and lowly couple, people without influence, for whom he felt sorry because the woman was about to give birth.

Syrian and Iraqi refugees reach the coastal waters of Lesbos, Greece, after having crossed from Turkey

After Jesus’ birth, Herod didn’t want a baby that could take his throne. The three kings had told Herod that it was written in the stars that a great king had been born in his realm. The truth that this king - as part of his kingship - would die on a cross between two thieves, in humility and sacrifice, was something that Herod could not conceive. Here God identifies with the lowly and rejected of this world. The false presumption, that Jesus was a worldly king of power and might, is what Herod preferred to believe.

In Jesus’ childhood town, no one wanted a Messiah that came from their place. When Jesus preached to the Nazarenes, about his being the one fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy, they were dumbstruck, then angry. They went on to expel Jesus from his home town. Here, God identifies with exiles and refugees. The truth that Jesus was the Son of God was obscured by their knowledge that he was also the son of Joseph the carpenter. They preferred to believe the falsity that the Messiah could not come from their town, and especially from that family.

So, as Christmas approaches, we can reflect on what we believe -- a truth bigger than ourselves, or the falsities of what this world would have us believe. Here is Christ the King, who identifies with the vulnerable, the poor, the lowly, the rejected, and exiles. Even as a baby, together with his parents, Jesus was met with false judgements, rejection, and even swords. He was the God no one seemed to want. Yet how blessed we are.

For the baby Jesus brings us gifts beyond anything we could imagine. He is the bringer of light that pierces all darkness, the giver of truth, the humble servant king who teaches the lessons of love and selfless service, the bringer of peace, joy and hope, and ultimately the victorious saviour over death and giver of eternal life in heaven. Rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!

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