© 2022 UnPoverty and Mark K. Lutz

THE Christmas Story: Jesus Was Born Poor, Died Poor and Lived With The Poor


This Christmas, I reflect on what Jesus’ birth may be saying to us today, in the middle of Covid,
when 100 million more people are thrown back into extreme poverty.

The reality is that Jesus himself was born into poverty. Mary and Joseph were poor, with tradition telling us they had only a donkey as transport from Nazareth to Bethlehem. They had neither money nor clout to finesse their way into a hotel or bed of any kind.

After Jesus’s birth, wealthy kings and astronomers arrived following a mysterious star that slowly crossed the night sky, visible only to those who had eyes to see and a will to pursue. That star came to rest, beaming its light over that dirty manger where a holy baby was born. Here they showered the destitute family with different extravagant gifts they brought on their camels, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In this pivotal scene of God’s cosmic drama, the poor and the rich meet. God could have arranged for Jesus to travel to the magi, but in God’s economy, the order is often reversed.

Fast forward 33 years, right before Jesus’s crucifixion, Jesus calls his disciples together and tells
them one last story. He has an important parting message he wants to leave with them – care for
the poor.


In Matthew’s final parable when Jesus tells his followers how they had clothed and fed him and given him a place to sleep, they asked, “When did we do that for you?” Jesus responded, “Whatever you do for one of the least of these, you do for me.”

Children of various races holding a loaf of bread in a conceptual image.

Most of the “least” do not go to our church or live in our community. Or our country. So what Jesus is asking of us today is to open our doors and lovingly extend our generosity beyond our own comfortable boundaries.

As Jesus followers, we are a diverse body, and we do many generous things for those in need around us. And we have tremendous momentum in our efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. This Christmas I encourage us to be bold, to take steps of faith in our giving. May we each consider what role we would like to have in eradicating extreme poverty in our lifetime. Let us not act out of guilt or pressure but rather respond out of deep gratitude. Every one of us reading this from a phone or laptop has hit life’s jackpot by being born out of extreme poverty. Your children do not have to sniff glue to kill hunger pain or sift through the landfill in your backyard for something to recycle or eat.

As with the three magi, there is no single perfect gift. They all brought what they had. We each bring to Jesus what we have, and by so doing we help bring God’s kingdom to earth – one of justice, hope and love.

Thy will be done. UnPoverty is possible. Click below to get involved.

Jesus, the Light of the World, as we celebrate your birth, may we begin to see the world in the light of understanding you give us. As you chose the lowly, the outcasts, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may we worship you in meekness of heart. May we also remember our brothers and sisters less fortunate than ourselves in this season of giving. Amen.

Karen L. Oberst

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