Bethlehem this Christmas

“Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem…” (Luke 2:4)

As we remind ourselves each year, Joseph and Mary made their long journey, compelled by a census. It became a journey of joy as Mary gave birth to a baby whom we call the Prince of Peace.

As we sing Christmas carols we are invited to think of Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. This year I’d invite you to think also of what Bethlehem has become today.

To make the journey from Nazareth in Israel to Bethlehem in the occupied Palestinian territories today, Mary and Joseph would have to cross through approximately 70 Israeli barriers – checkpoints, fences, walls and barriers which would involve multiple interrogations and delays – and they would be lucky to be allowed through at all.

These same barriers prevent shepherds watching their flocks, either by day or by night. Most people in Bethlehem have been cut off from their grazing lands, having significant economic effects. Continue reading.

Bishop Pat Power is a retired auxiliary bishop of Canberra and Goulburn. He is a member of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network.

Source: Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, this article was reprinted in December’s Wel-Com

Image: Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn

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