Dec 17, 2021
Although coming home for Christmas is a beautiful holiday tradition greatly to be cherished, it nevertheless occurs to me that leaving home for Christmas, correctly understood, is equally or even more important.
When you think of it, leaving home certainly has good precedent. After all, as the time was drawing near for the first Christmas, Mary and Joseph packed a few belongings, left their home in Nazareth, and headed southward toward the Judean town of David called Bethlehem.
Joseph was obliged to go there by an edict from the emperor in far-off Rome instructing Jewish men to travel to their ancestral towns in order to be counted in a census. But what about Mary? Why did she, well along in pregnancy as she was, undertake this arduous journey?
The answer which I suggest in my new book The Life of Jesus Christ is based on a prophecy, found in the Old Testament book of Micah, that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. From the time of the Annunciation nearly nine months earlier, Mary had linked that prophecy to her child. But how, she must have wondered, would God arrange for her to go to Bethlehem? Now the census provided the answer. So with Joseph, off to Bethlehem she went.