Jesus, Mary and Joseph would have been put on Universal Credit: Eamonn McCann

Eamonn McCann
Eamonn McCann

If Joseph and Mary had arrived into Belfast rather than Bethlehem they’d have put themselves in danger of their benefits being slashed.

As soon as baby Jesus was born in the manger, they would have been told this was a change of circumstances and they’d have to apply for Universal Credit.

It’s likely that wouldn’t have gotten a penny until well into the new year.

These days, as migrants, they might have found the road from Nazareth blocked by barbed wire and frontier guards with guns at the ready and no compunction about opening fire on children.

Even if they managed to get through, they’d have had to keep on living in the stable until Jesus was in his teens, or his 20s, or his 30s, on account of private rentals being far above their price range and a desperate death of social housing.

His education would quite likely have been curtailed by a lack of adequate resources, and health care in deep crisis.

As far as “Peace on Earth “is concerned - we can currently see Bethlehem and the rest of Palestine occupied by a colonial power which treats their lives like dirt while the world looks on,

They might be given succour by people with little more than themselves but given no quarter by the powers-that-be.

But they’d also find, in themselves and all around them, resilience, courage, love and determination to overcome the obstacles deliberately placed in their way as they moved through life by rulers for whom greed is only law-giver.

The necessity in our own time, in 2019, will be for all who find themselves in the position of Joseph and Mary to join with all others in the ranks of the oppressed in pursuit of freedom and a decent world for all.