Wednesday, December 28, 2011
When the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more." Matthew 2:13-18
We returned safely home through a driving rain storm last night. I was truly grateful it was not snow, but there was enough flooding that many have suffered. Traveling is always a challenge being on the road with no safe harbor, but for us, the threats are small, the tyranny only a little. I couldn't help but think of those who have to be on the road this winter. Those who have no home and have to keep on the move to find shelter. The many soldiers returning from Iraq who have seen too much tyranny for their young eyes, their bodies have witnessed too much pain, and the families of those who will not return are inconsolable.
Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents, when we remember the jealous rage of King Herod, a rage which destroyed a whole generation of children. I cannot even imagine what it was like, inside the walls of Bethlehem city, as soldiers took babies from their mothers arms. Terror and pain too deep for words, they make scars that will never go away. How one powerful man's anger can destroy an entire generation. God invites us today to understand that striking out in anger and revenge can only destroy innocents, and God aches instead for the healing and binding up of our world. God invites us to protect the weak, shelter the innocent and needy, be love and warmth when the world has turned away.
Today, I ask God to help me be an instrument of peace and healing. There is plenty to be angry about, but may God give me the strength to respond to hurt with compassion and forgiveness. May my life be a consolation, a hand in time of need, so that the world might see the love of God through me. May all of us today, remembering those young children slaughtered by Herod and all the innocent victims of war and violence, commit ourselves to be agents of healing and peace. May selfishness and jealousy be replaced with selflessness and tenderness this day.
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.