Faith Daily | 28 December 2020
PRAYER of the Week| APBA p.476
you have shed upon us
the light of your incarnate Word:
may this light, kindled in our hearts,
shine forth in our lives;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
GOSPEL for the Day: Matthew 2: 13-18 HOLY INNOCENTS
13Now after they had left, 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.” 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and 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.”
16When 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. 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18“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.”
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by Rachel McFadyen
At high school in England in the late 1950s, I was the only girl called Rachel in the school – it was an unusual name then. So every year when this passage was read out in assembly, I felt “marked out” and it has stayed with me ever since – “Rachel weeping for her children and would not be comforted, because they were no more.” Rachel wept again in the gas-ovens of Auschwitz and the camps and mass burial pits across Europe in the Nazi years, and the slaughter grounds in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and weeps now as children drown in perilous sea crossings in Europe, south Asia and now the Caribbean.
The babies of Bethlehem died as a direct result of Jesus’ birth, because of Herod’s determination that nothing would come between him and his power. Herod the Great was a very evil man, aged about 70 at the time, already old and sick. He held his throne only by Roman support, and he couldn’t tolerate any threat to his power. His rage also meant that Jesus, with Joseph and Mary, became homeless refugees, like so many in the world today; read the little book for children called “Jesus was a refugee” which re-tells the story in modern terms.
God never promised a peaceful life in this world to his followers. Jesus said “I came not to bring peace but a sword” (Matthew 10:35). It is easy to say “God will look after his people” – well, not necessarily in this world. God did not save the babies in Bethlehem, nor cure their mothers’ grief, and God has not saved the children who are dying now.
Yet Jesus also said “Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted” – what did he mean? That God comforts them with the knowledge that this world is not all there is. Job said “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away: blessed be the name of the Lord”, the words of the bereaved through the centuries. Our responsibility is to do what we can to ensure sanctuary for families and children fleeing violence, in our country and elsewhere.
FINAL PRAYER: APBA p626
God of the dispossessed,
defender of the helpless,
you grieve with all the women who weep
because their children are no more:
may we also refuse to be comforted
until the violence of the strong has been confounded,
and the broken victims have been set free;
in the name of Jesus Christ.