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.”
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 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.”
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: