Gospel: Mt 2:13-18
After the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, ”Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the child in order to kill him.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled: I called my son out of Egypt. When Herod found out that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighborhood who were two years old or under. This was done according to what he had learned from the wise men about the time when the star appeared. In this way, what the prophet Jeremiah had said was fulfilled: A cry is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation: Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.
This is a painful story to read just four days after Christmas. Matthew tells a story that is disturbing but ultimately more realistic. Jesus‘ birth upsets the order. He comes as God‘s chosen King, the one who is to bring about the peace, justice and mercy. And so all other kings who put their own power, authority and privilege first are terrified. Herod is so terrified that he is willing to slaughter the infants of a whole region. Such a grim account of wholesale massacre and night flights to safety would seem far-fetched were it not for similar atrocities and tragedies happening right now. How many families, for instance, are being dislocated in Syria even as we reflect on the gospel? And how many children are being starved to death around the world as we finish up or throw away holiday leftovers? And how many families are struggling with their own sorrows and righteous anger as some members become victims of extrajudicial killings? The Christmas event celebrates Jesus as Emmanuel, as God so near to us, shares our lot and our life, and submitting himself to all our disappointments, fears, violence and even death. This story matters because it tells us the truth: the sometimes difficult truth of unjust and violent rulers and the indifference of many. But we keep hopeful in the truth that God is not looking at our sorrows and pain at a distance, but in Jesus, God‘s own self has joined our story and is working — even now, even here — to grant us new life that we may not just endure but flourish, experiencing joy and courage in our daily lives and sharing our hope with others.
© Copyright Bible Diary 2018