The Nativity – For Pope Francis

The Gift

According to the Book of Matthew the omnipotent God of Israel decides to incarnate as a mortal.

God can do it any way he wants.

He can descend as an adult and live as a king.

He can choose birth to a royal house of the educated upper class.

Instead he chooses to break the Law of Moses by impregnating a young, unmarried peasant girl who is likely to suffer execution by stoning if her pregnancy is discovered.

No one will believe her story of heavenly insemination:

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”
Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph initially decides to continue with the marriage and then divorce Mary.

He later adopts Jesus as his own.

Everything about the birth of Jesus is unsavory in terms of Mosaic Law and the rigid class system of the ancient world.

Jesus is a bastard and his Mother is an adulteress which was one of the worst crimes a woman can commit:

“Unlawful intercourse with a woman betrothed to a man was adultery, because the betrothed woman was deemed as inviolable as the married woman. The punishment for this crime was stoning to death at the place of public execution (Deut. xxii. 24). The punishment for Adultery according to the Mishnah (Sanh. xi. 1) was strangulation; the rabbinical theory being that wherever the death penalty was mentioned in the Bible, without any specific statement of the manner of its infliction, strangulation was meant.

The Jewish Encyclopedia

“The child of an incestuous or adulterous connection was known as a Mamzer.

It was not permitted to become a member of the Jewish body politic (Deut. xxiii. 3 [A. V. 2]), and could not intermarry with a Jew or Jewess (Ḳid. iii. 12), although it did not lose its right to inherit from the husband of its mother, who, while not the legitimate father, was for this purpose the putative father.”

The Jewish Encyclopedia

There is no place in the World for this Child so he is born in a cave where he sleeps in a device designed for feeding livestock.

(Away in a manger, no crib for his head)

The only people who know that Jesus is God are the Wise Men,  Mary and Joseph and the poorest of Shepherds.

So, why would God do this?

What is the meaning this decision to incarnate among outcasts to a life that begins and ends outside of the Law?

In 2010 I saw a documentary film called Dark Days.

The film is about a group of men and women who live in the train tunnels under Manhattan.

This is where I got the idea for the picture that illustrates this post.

I imagined Jesus as an abandoned infant discovered by a homeless young man who lives in a subway tunnel.

I shot this image in 2011.

This is my first experiment with the use of Second Life avatars to illustrate a story.

The avatar represents the young man who is homeless.

He has discovered a baby in the abandoned and decayed subway terminal he shares as a ‘home’ with a small community of homeless people.

I dedicate this post and image to Pope Francis, who teaches us about Christianity by practicing it.

Pope Francis is human and therefore not perfect, none of us are; but isn’t that the point?

The Right Wing Rebuttal to Pope Francis:

The real response to the Pope’s visit:

How Right-Wing Media Are Welcoming Pope Francis To America





15 thoughts on “The Nativity – For Pope Francis

  1. Yes, but Paul repeatedly tells us in Romans that keeping the Law in Jewish custom is not necessarily a sign of righteousness or a condition to enter the kingdom. The matter is incomplete for it is not the law but faith in Christ that brings redemption. The New Covenant is that the law is fulfilled through Christ and he cites Old Testament prophecies to support that contention. Paul also relates that “who is man to question(also in Job) the way God chooses to reveal Himself?”Paul posits that the refusal to accept and follow Christ is a rejection to His path for our redemption and castigates the Jews who refuse to accept this doctrine. It is also written the the angel tells Joseph that the child is born of the Holy Spirit just as the angel tells the aged Elizabeth and aged husband that a child (John the Baptist) will also be born of the Holy Spirit. Paul contends that there is nothing unsavory about the birth of Christ and there is no record of Joseph divorcing Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved learning about the thoughts and meaning behind the artwork. I’m of no faith, but as you eloquently stated, this pope speaks to more than Christians. A faith based in kindness, care, and responsibility for our brother and sisters is indeed refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you…I learned alot about using VR from making this image. I love the fact that technology provides so many tools for creative expression.

      What I find refreshing is a Christian who isn’t thumping us over the head with the Old Testament — Pope Francis manages to discuss Jesus without ever mentioning the arbitrary and dogmatic laws that Jesus fought to humanize.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What I find fascinating about him is that you don’t have to believe to see the radical power of the teachings, especially when they are practiced by one of the most powerful men on the planet. For over thirty years I’ve watched Christianity degraded by moralizing hypocrites and wealthy chicken hawks. It is refreshing to watch this Pope do what a religious leader is supposed to do. If he is political it is because genuine morality is political in a culture that thrives on fraud.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes…this is the kind of Faith that induced me to convert. It’s been years of despair as I’ve watched people who despise everything Jesus stood for co-opt Christianity and use to inflict pain and suffering on anyone who couldn’t fight back. I feel as if Francis is proof that there is a just and compassionate God.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hey Robert,

    The true Light that pierces the hearts and minds of Spiritually mature people cannot be demonised, deflected or deflated from its path of Loving intention, nor can it corrupt those whose faith is steadfastly assured. The Capitalist driven regimes of yesterday are crumbling, they have nowhere left to go. A day will come when they will be redeemed of their suffering and unwitting sins but not through violent exchanges of power, but through the nobleness of our actions, our integrity, the strength of our collective pity, and the righteousness of God’s mercy and compassion. The meek shall inherit the world because a pure heart cannot be corrupted.

    I thought this a very powerful piece of writing Robert, and once again applaud you on the artistic merit of its content. Thank you for being a strong voice for those who can only whisper.


    DN – 23/09/2015

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think this Pope, is a powerful voice.

      He is saying that we are so much more than we think we are…we are so much more than we want to believe we are…we are better than out hatreds…we can rise above instinct which is the only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I have no problem with regulated Capitalism. My real problem is with with avaricious men and women who want to play with our government and our lives as if they are games.

      One doesn’t have to be a Christian to see that this Pope is a genuine man of Faith.

      One does not have to believe that Jesus existed to understand the practice that defines what we attribute to the myth of Jesus.

      To claim that the man who was crucified as a criminal is a vengeful God who supports waging war, state executions, economic exploitation and institutional slavery is the blackest form of cynical hypocrisy.

      Thank you for reading my blog and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Hey Robert,

        Thank you for posting this well written Blog and replying with such heart. I am in admiration of the strength and integrity of your convictions Robert, and have always found that inspiring, and inspirational…. as I am sure many who read you Blog do as well.

        I sense it is very difficult to find any true degree of separation between governments and corporate wealth that fund them and control them. In practice we see all to often Capitalist interests taking precedence over ethical and moral principles, and this by extension severely impacts our lives.

        I recall a comment you left on The Neighbourhood a short while ago: ‘a leader is led by those he leads’, which I thought a wonderfully succinct and powerful statement. Indeed, as Barbara Kellerman once suggested in the December 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review – and I think it is applicable to all contemporary power bases, and hence by extension to societies as well where power is currently off-set to favour the minority – ‘it’s long overdue for academics and practitioners to adopt a more expansive view of Leadership – one that sees leaders and followers as inseparable, indivisible, and impossible to conceive the one without the other’.

        One might suggest such inspired and purposeful thinking speaks of ‘partnership and collaboration’, ‘integration and inclusion’, ‘absorption and synthesis, and ‘compromise and acceptance’. But still, I do not think this really goes far enough in addressing the imbalance that exists. Why does the Earth need to spin on an axis of fool’s gold leaving the overall arch of our lives to be defined by the choices of the immensely wealthy and privileged whose main interest it appears is protecting their own fiefdoms and huge profit margins? I am not opposed to regulated Capitalism if it has to exist at all, but that word ‘regulated’ must carry real weight and have bearing, substance and be positively intended. Lip service is no longer good enough.

        Personally, I do not think transitioning to such advanced societies foregoes the essential requirement to have a ‘vertical authority relationship’ – someone has to be prepared to lead and accept a greater degree of responsibility, and rightly so. But to my mind, if progressive, forward thinking societies are to evolve and be successful and move closer to expressing and experiencing a practical, universal understanding of unity, equality, and freedoms for all, as opposed to stratification based on wealth, ownership and control, it will take men and women with immense courage, unimpeachable character, impeccable Spirit, tireless resolve and incorruptible integrity whose vision extends beyond the propensity for (absolute) power.

        I am not an individual whose Spiritual beliefs stem from organised or orthodox religions (however, all paths leading to Peace, Love and Enlightenment are equally worthy) but I do have faith in the underlying tenements that support each of them…Love, Peace, Wisdom, Compassion, Charity and Kindness…all of which are God-given virtues to be found within each of us anyway should we want to find them. And to that end, I would support this Pope as a man of genuine Faith with a vision for a better world that is guided by the Highest Authority.


        DN – 23/09/2015

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree with you. I don’t believe we can have a healthy society based on complete egalitarianism. But we can have a society that fairly allocates resources and provides all of our children with a level starting point. Good educations. Nutritious food. Respect for other people. Respect for the work of creating a vibrant civilization. And a certain protection from complete economic ruin and exploitation.

        Liked by 1 person

I appreciate your comments, though I can’t always reply immediately

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