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A Christmas reflection: Syria – a retelling of the Christmas story.

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2 A Christmas reflection: Syria – a retelling of the Christmas story

3 Over 2000 years ago, Joseph, Mary and their unborn child travelled just over 100km from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for the census, implemented by Quirinius, governor of Syria. It took them three to four days travelling on foot and on a donkey.

4 Earlier this year, Zahaya, 21, her husband, Karim, and their one year old son fled over 600km from Syria to Lebanon to take refuge from the humanitarian crisis. They took several buses and made attempts to cross at three different borders.


6 When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, the town was full. There was no room at the inn, so they had to stay in a stable.

7 There are over 2.2 million Syrian refugees today. Many live in tents in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, where Zahaya and her family are.


9 Mary gave birth to Jesus in the stable. There was no crib, so they laid the baby in a manger, a feeding trough for animals.

10 “It is very difficult to live here in a tent. […] We have no shower or bath here. We have no running water or electricity,” says Zahaya. “As a mother, it is difficult to manage my family here.”


12 After Jesus’ birth, King Herod issued a decree to kill all boys under the age of three. Doing what was necessary for the good of his family, Joseph led them out of Israel and into the land of Egypt as a migrant refugee.

13 Zahaya’s house was demolished by bombs in April 2013. “We had nothing, only the clothes we were wearing. We knew it was time to leave.”

14 “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, living in exile in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are, for all times and all places, the models and protectors of every migrant, alien and refugee of whatever kind who, whether compelled by fear of persecution or by want, is forced to leave his native land, his beloved parents and relatives, his close friends, and to seek a foreign soil.” Pope Pius XII, Exsul Familia Nazarethana


16 “To the international community […] I ask for the provision of humanitarian aid for the displaced and refugees, and Syrians who have lost their homes, showing in the first place the good of each human person and guarding their dignity.” Pope Francis


18 The Caritas network is providing critical food, shelter and living supplies to Zahaya and her family, along with thousands of other refugees like them.


20 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.” Luke 2:14

21 Photo credits Caritas Switzerland Catholic Relief Services Eoghan Rice / Trócaire


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