Christmas

January 1 is celebrated both as the Naming of Jesus (the 8th day after his birth – Luke 2:21), and as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Mary (“Miriam”) bears the same name as Moses’ sister. A strong woman. She is married to Joseph (also significant in the Hebrew Bible – Prime Minister of Egypt etc!). The names of the rest of the family are also strong names recollecting their early history of liberation. Jesus (Joshua = “God saves/liberates/sets free” led the invasion of the Holy Land), James (Jacob), Joseph, Simon (Simeon), Judas (Judah), (Matthew 13:55).

And, yes, we know Jesus had at least two sisters. It also tells a story that we don’t know their names…

Does your family go in for royal names (George, James, Henry, William, Elizabeth, Anne)? Famous sportspeople? Jesus’ family seemed to choose early liberation names. Jesus’ family chose names from the foundational deliverance stories of their nation. You can imagine what the Roman oppressors thought of people with names like this.

When the new Joshua (Jesus) crosses the Jordan (baptism) from the far side (Jn 1:28), re-entering the Promised Land, one can imagine the texts that hit Pontius Pilate’s mobile phone from the equivalent of MI5 or the SIS. The strong Miriam-Mary and her family were a group to keep an eye on.

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