By Beth Germano

DEDHAM (CBS) – It’s an unconventional take on the nativity scene at St. Susanna’s Parish Dedham. The baby Jesus is in a cage, the wise men are closed off by a wall.

For the parish, the crèche is meant to be thought provoking. “We try to take a picture of the world as it is and put it together with a Christmas message,” said Pastor Fr. Stephen Josoma.

Saint Susanna’s Parish in Dedham has an immigration-themed nativity scene. (WBZ-TV)

That message this year questions “peace on earth”, since Jesus represents migrant children being held at the southern border separated from their parents.

The wise men are the caravan of migrants behind the border wall. They believe it’s very much the message of Jesus. “Jesus was about taking care of one another. This is not the way to take care of one another,” said Fr. Josoma.

“We’re not trying to scandalize anyone,” said parishioner Pat Ferrone, a member of the Pax Christi committee which came up with the idea for the display. “We’re trying to reflect back a reality that has to be looked at.”

The nativity scene in Dedham has a baby Jesus in a cage, calling attention to immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border. (WBZ-TV)

But mixing politics with religion isn’t sitting well with some who believe the nativity scene has crossed a line. “This is where you come to pray not to be preached at what you should think about politics,” said Helen Watson who drove to church to see the display.

Fr. Josoma insists the scene is not a dig at Trump administration policies. Instead of political activism he calls it gospel activism. “We talk about Matthew 25 feeding the hungry and welcoming the stranger.”

A 2017 nativity scene at a Dedham church called attention to deadly mass shootings. (WBZ-TV)

Parishioner Phil Mandeville says Jesus was no stranger to politics. “Christ was political, he was hung on a cross for making political statements and bucking authority and that’s exactly why he died,” Mandeville said.

The nativity scene is meant to be a symbol of hope, and at St. Susanna’s the hope is that a conversation has begun.

Beth Germano

Comments (139)
  1. Thomas Lee says:

    Let’s see, Jesus was in Bethlehem because the government wanted to tax his parents. The tax/census migration caused so much overcrowding the Lord was born in a stable and laid in a manger. Yes, this church has learned the message of Christmas!

    1. ecoquant says:

      @Thomas Lee,

      Regarding the above, (a) “taxes” didn’t mean then what they mean now, and (b) there was no “want” about it: When Rome said to come, you came.

      On “(a)”, consider sumptuary laws from ancient Greece and Rome: These were taxes and obligations imposed upon those who benefited the most from the City or the state. They included payments, paying for open entertainments, and building and staffing ships under city or state control at their expense, and paying the salaries of the staffs in compensation for the earnings they would miss had they not had to go to war.

      On “(b)”, despite Rome’s long patience with its renegade province in Judea, lasting nearly a century, in the end, they needed to resort to annihilation.

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