Being a native son of Alabama, I am very aware of the importance of “place” and “family” in daily life, thus the question is common — “Where are you from?”
It has been asked a few times to me since I began my new assignment here at St. Michael Parish in July. Such was the case for Jesus as he was being questioned by Pontus Pilate about the claim that he was the promised Messiah and of him being the Son of God. Amid these serious questions Pilate asks, “Where are you from?”
Although it seems like an unlikely question to someone facing death at the hands of the Roman authority, it does seem Pilot understands the importance of getting the full identity of this man before conveying the sentence of death.
For the Christian faithful amid the distractions that we can fall to in the Advent and Christmas season of believing — it is all about the perfect gift, the best cocktail party and trying to figure out how we will pay for all of it — the best advice for celebrating Christmas may actually come from the unlikely the story of Salvation-Pilate, when he asks the question “Where are you from?” in the middle of the drama of Our Lord’s Passion.
Maybe it is time here and now for the Christian faithful to reflect and celebrate where Jesus is from and possibly be led to a continued conversion of celebrating the real meaning of Christmas.
Thus, maybe we can start by turning to the Gospel accounts of His birth and family origins found in the Infancy narratives of the Gospels Matthew and Luke or the richness of the Gospel of John 1:11-18. Better yet, just contemplate and truly adore the Christ Child at Bethlehem; see the example of Mary and Joseph as excellent role models for parenthood and the Magi as honest pilgrims in search of Truth.
In conclusion, learning to appreciate and celebrate “where Jesus is from” — He is God, takes on human flesh, born into a human family as a fragile baby, nurtured with maternal and paternal love, surrounded by an extended family in Nazareth, watched a father work hard, had parents that taught him prayers. All of this prepared and aided him in his divine mission to save humanity from destroying itself.
We do not know if Pilate actually spent much time really wanting to know where Jesus was from, but this season of Christmas gives a beautiful period of time for Christians and non-Christians alike to return to the accounts of what happened to Mary and Joseph and their kin in preparation of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.
What an amazing family, what amazing small towns (Bethlehem and Nazareth) and friends that would influence Jesus as he journeys on that great mission to Jerusalem and encounters Pilate in order to save humanity. It is time to know more about where he is from and to truly understand what we celebrate on Dec. 25.
Rev. Msgr. Michael L. Farmer is a native of Prattville and was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Mobile in 1995 . Prior to his appointment as pastor of St. Michael Parish, he was Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Mobile and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Mobile