Poor baby Jesus. Born in a lowly manger to a single income family and the father a blue-collar worker. Things were looking up when three wise men appeared, but instead of gifts like housing or health insurance, all they had to offer was frankinsence, good for masking the smell of cow dung in the manger, and some myrhh. which could be used for—“Hmm, exactly what is that anyway?” I’m imagining Joseph and Mary thinking while putting on their most polite faces thanking the wise men for the gift. Apparently, some could be used for a cosmetic—you may be poor, but you can still look good—some for glue, handy for home repair, and some for embalming, in case things got really bad. And yes, there was some gold, but only enough to invest in Jesus’ college fund and hope that some greedy Bethlehem trader didn’t collapse the banks.
And speaking of college, what about the education options? Baby Jesus started his life with the crime of being poor in a cruel culture of rich folks who shamelessly passed laws to hurt other people’s children. It all began with a program called Teach for Roman Judaea which threw young unqualified teachers into the roughest neighborhoods of Bethlehem, destroying the teacher’s ideals and interest in teaching and feeding the cynicism and hopelessness of the students they babysit. (Some speculate that the later Roman tradition of throwing Christians to the lions was modeled from this sport. Except the lions were much happier than the students.) Then when one unhappy parent complained about the teachers’ lack of qualifications, the rulers got nervous and passed a law labeling teachers with no certification “highly qualified—because we say so” and sending them into the poorest neighborhoods where people lived in mangers.
When young Jesus finally found a school, such as it was, his penchant for metaphorical thinking was squashed when his teachers told him time and time again, “these thoughts are not on the test.” Followed by “and you better start studying or we’re going to put you to work cleaning the manger so you learn something about the work ethic.”
We all know what happened next. Fed up with the system, Jesus dropped out of school, grew a beard and walked around the countryside barefoot with 12 other guys, the beginnings of the Occupy Roman Judaea Movement. He had some weird notions of the meek and poor inheriting the kingdom and rich people began to try to stuff camels through the eyes of needles to see if they had a chance of passing the Ultimate Test. That must have been quite a sight. When it was clear that money had no currency in Heaven, they just decided to get rid of the guy.
Some speculate that frustrated by his first go-round and anxious to go to a better school, there may be a Second Coming and baby Jesus will be amongst us yet again. My advice? Don’t be born in the U.S. —or at least read about the case of Renee vs. Duncan before you decide.
I suggest Finland.