Faith Daily | 28 December 2021
PRAYER of the DAY - 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
Now 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.’ 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 fulfil 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.’
GOSPEL Reflection: Contributed by: Rev’d Graham
The passages before this and immediately following contain to me what can only be described as a cacophony of contrasting feelings, emotions and reactions. Prior to the events of this passage, the wise men, as they should have been, were full of anticipation and eventual joy when they discovered the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ “ Jeremiah 23:5 What a change when those same wise men were warned not to return to Herod and give him any news of the birth event, and have left with their feelings probably deflated.
As for Herod, I can only imagine what must have been going on in his mind. Did he wonder and have doubts initially about the authenticity of the report? Was the fear that Matthew describes only of the thought that he would lose his authority, and, in that political climate, possibly his life? When he realised that he was not going to receive the information he so wanted, any negative feelings he had towards this “usurper” previously became ingloriously magnified to the extent that we read about.
Joseph’s actions as recorded in this passage were honourable and only to be expected knowing the revelations that had been revealed to him previously. And his decision to remain in Egypt fulfilled Hosea’s prophecy: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1) What feelings must Joseph and Mary have had during this time before they returned from this necessary exile? The trust they had in God’s love would certainly have been immeasurable.
While we might ponder on the wickedness of Herod’s thoughts and actions, we must not forget God’s love as expressed in Jesus, the one who was the unseen focus of this particular story, and shown in his life. Yes, we can feel empathy with those who lost children at the hands of perpetrators in this story and similarly in events in history even to the present.
But I believe the words and actions of Jesus thirty years later stand in wonderful contrast to the reporting of this particular event in history, when Jesus says: ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.” (Matthew 19: 14-15) This, I am sure, is what we are called to follow and where we are called to concentrate our thoughts and actions.
FINAL PRAYER: Collect for Holy Innocents 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.