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.
In caves between the Orthodox basilica and the medieval one in Bethlehem today we can view many little skulls. According to tradition they belong to the innocent martyrs beheaded by Herod. Historically it is difficult to verify this, but monuments help us to remember historical events.
Today’s feast is scandalous on the one hand, but mysterious on the other.
We all reject this act of cruelty of Herod moved as he is by jealousy of any other possible king. But it is also true that this bloody testimony is somehow linked to the future shedding of another blood, the blood of the innocent Lamb of God, now preserved from dying by the Providence of his Father, through the anguish and rushed flight to Egypt of Joseph, Mary and the child.
Should not today be the moment to rekindle our deep compassion for so many innocent victims in the streets of our cities and provide them home, nourishment and education?
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