APOLOGIA (22) – Why was the Son of God born in a very humble village?


Objection 1: It seems very strange that the Son of God, as Jesus pretended to be, was born in a very humble village as Bethlehem. If he was the powerful man he claimed to be, he should be born in an important palace in an important city.

Objection 2:  The family of Jesus, was from Nazareth another obscure village. Why can the Son of God not select a better place to come into the world?

On the contrary, in Micah (5:1) is said: “But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”

I answer that here we have one of the main elements of the incarnation of Jesus. He has decided to be a King from below, still a King but not to be confused with the Kings of the world. And of course we have to understand better the role of Bethlehem. Bethlehem means, “house of the bread, house of the meat.” It is a city that is eight kilometers distant from Jerusalem. Bethlehem has a very important role in the life of King David: he shepherded his flock around the village, he departed from here to fight with Goliath, he was anointed King of Israel from Samuel here. So we have the prophecy from Micah of the future King-Messiah that will come from the house of David to free Israel and he will be born in Bethlehem. So the Jews were awaiting a Messiah that will be born in Bethlehem. And Jesus was born in Bethlehem in a place that was honored by the first Christians but then transformed by the Romans in a place in honor of the pagan god Adonis.  Constantine destroyed what the Romans hand done to paganize the area and built there a Basilica in honor of the place of Nativity. The Constantinian Basilica was destroyed and another one was built by Justinian. In the 20th century there were archeological excavations under the Basilica and it was discovered that also in ancient times this place was considered as sacred (see Enciclopedia della Bibbia Elle Di CI).

Reply to objection 1: I think that here an answer can be given by Pope Benedict XVI with his homily on 24 December 2005: “‘The Lord said to me: You are my son; this day I have begotten you.’ With these words of the second Psalm, the Church begins the Vigil Mass of Christmas, at which we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ our Redeemer in a stable in Bethlehem. This Psalm was once a part of the coronation rite of the kings of Judah. The People of Israel, in virtue of its election, considered itself in a special way a son of God, adopted by God. Just as the king was the personification of the people, his enthronement was experienced as a solemn act of adoption by God, whereby the King was in some way taken up into the very mystery of God. At Bethlehem night, these words, which were really more an expression of hope than a present reality, took on new and unexpected meaning. The Child lying in the manger is truly God’s Son. God is not eternal solitude but rather a circle of love and mutual self-giving. He is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But there is more: in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God himself, God from God, became man. To him the Father says: ‘You are my son.’ God’s everlasting ‘today’ has come down into the fleeting today of the world and lifted our momentary today into God’s eternal today. God is so great that he can become small. God is so powerful that he can make himself vulnerable and come to us as a defenceless child, so that we can love him. God is so good that he can give up his divine splendour and come down to a stable, so that we might find him, so that his goodness might touch us, give itself to us and continue to work through us. This is Christmas: ‘You are my son, this day I have begotten you.’ God has become one of us, so that we can be with him and become like him. As a sign, he chose the Child lying in the manger: this is how God is. This is how we come to know him. And on every child shines something of the splendour of that ‘today,’ of that closeness of God which we ought to love and to which we must yield – it shines on every child, even on those still unborn.”

Reply to objection 2:  Also here there is a link with prophecies. Nazareth means “to flourish” and we know that in Isaiah 11:1 is said: “But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” And indeed this was the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary was living and where the Annunciation took place. The place where a “yes” will change the history of humanity.