Massacre of innocentsBy Jesse Epp-Fransen
The story of the Massacre of the Innocents in Matthew seems out of place in a story of good news and glad tidings. During the Christmas season, when we celebrate the coming of the Lord with angels and shepherds and kings, this tale of infanticide is shocking and upsetting.
Yet this past Christmas, the national coverage of the Newtown, Conn., shooting made this story terribly fitting.
Matt. 2:16-18, the only account of the massacre, reads: “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.’ ”
The tragedy of Herod’s massacre and today’s tragedies of gun violence are the stories of murdered innocents, brought to destruction at least in part by political concerns and cultures viewing violence as the solution to maintaining power and stability.
Much like political leaders today, Herod feared the rise of a different way, a way not dominated by the kingship of his line, but by a servant King.
Today political leaders fear addressing the issue of gun violence because of potential political fallout.
Many who oppose new gun legislation fear that one law will turn to many, that registration will turn to confiscation and that regulation will end in disarmament.
It is into this world of fear and power that the divine child is born, for it is this world that needs him.
Jesus comes to live a different way. Jesus is vulnerable. He must flee to Egypt for safety. He will return to eventually be put to death by the political leaders of his time.
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