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Matthew 2:13-18

The Word of God

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."

Matthew 2:13-18
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Joy at the birth of Christ is short-lived. The cross looms from the outset. He is a hunted child. Mary, Joseph and Jesus must flee the wrath and brutal response of a cruel ruler who has been duped.
    • Lord the massacre of innocent lives continues across our globe. Unjust rulers wreak havoc leaving behind a trail of human misery. Genocide, atrocities, refugee camps, hunger, disease and major displacement are the order of our day. Let me be a witness to non-violence and welcoming presence to all displaced people who are forced to migrate.
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    • This is a painful gospel. What difficult news the angel brings: Joseph and his tiny family have to become refugees and go by night to a foreign land. We ask for his strength of soul today to do what we can to help the world’s refugees.
    • It is heart-breaking to imagine the slaughter of these children, the “Holy Innocents”. But our sense of pain for them can stir us now to do what we can for the suffering children of our world. In this way, the hideous suffering of the Innocents becomes an occasion of grace two thousand years on.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Throughout Jesus’ life, many of those intimately connected with him came to glory through suffering. St Paul tells us that ‘suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us’ (Romans 5:3-5). There are things one can see only with eyes that have wept.
    • Lord, you came into this world helpless and poor. You lived among the powerless and the needy and took their part. Make me alive to the sufferings of the innocent. Make me active in their protection, remembering always that whatever I do to ‘the least of these little ones’ I do to you.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • More violence in this octave of Christmas. This morning I pray for the mourning mothers of the Holy Land, weeping to this day for their dead children, because they are no more. Arabs and Jews, all of them Semites, continue to kill one another, in the delusion that bombs and blood will help. I pray for a spirit of peace there.
    • Matthew often uses Old Testament parallels in his Gospel. Just as Joseph, of multi-coloured dream-coat fame, interprets dreams, so does Joseph, Mary's husband. Pharaoh tried to slay all the male children of the Hebrews, only to have one of them, Moses, escape and become the saviour of his people. The tyrant Herod, not wanting any rivals, orders the massacre of all male children two years and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. But Jesus escapes and he, in his turn, becomes the new saviour of his people. While the story of the massacre of the children may, or may not, be historical, Herod certainly acts in character. If it is true, the number of children killed may not have exceeded twenty or so but, nonetheless, there would certainly have been "sobbing and lamentation" by the children's parents.
    • My heart goes out this Christmas time to all those who have lost children. Theirs is a heart-break beyond telling. I remember them in my prayers today.