Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Matthew 2:13-23
13 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.’ 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt,a 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.’
16 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.
bc 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.’
19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.
d 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents within Christian Tradition. It is not an accident that the Feast of the Massacre of the Innocents follows so close upon Christmas: the two are deeply interconnected. The Christ child is only half a story - a full reading confronts us with not only the joy and promise of Christmas, but its cost and its redemptive agony.

As we move into a new year, we are reminded with both the tragedy of the Tsunami in Asia and the war in Iraq that we live in a world where many innocent people are victims to both imperial oppression and natural disaster. As Christians who are neighbors with all God's children in the world let our response to victims of war and to victims of natural disaster be quick and compassionate.

"Lord, you give us life even before we understand" (Prayer Over the Gifts, Feast of the Holy Innocents).

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