Holy Innocents

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 50 (Morning)
Psalm 59, 60 or 8, 84 (Evening)
1 Kings 18:1-19
Philippians 2:12-30
Matthew 2:13-23

Holy Innocents

A voice was heard in Rama,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they were no more.

In today’s reading from Matthew, after the Wise Men have headed home and Joseph has been warned to flee with his family to Egypt, we hear of a horrific massacre. The scene reminds the Gospel writer of the passage from Jeremiah: Rachel weeping for her dead children. To other Jewish Christians it probably brought to mind Pharaoh’s edict that all male Jewish infants in Egypt be killed. For me, and probably for you too, the scene calls up images from today’s TV news and social media of other Middle Eastern children and their parents, the innocent victims of seemingly endless war which creates seemingly endless streams of refugees. What are we to make of this?

Over half a century ago the theologian Karl Barth said this to a group of young pastors: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” My first reaction to Barth is, “but think of all the mischief created by this kind of talk today!” Yes, but folks misused the Bible in Barth’s day too, and yet it has retained its authority to teach us that the human being born in Bethlehem was God incarnate, who, standing alongside humankind, experienced the worst that evil can do and showed us that ultimately God’s love prevails.

So take your Bible in one hand and your electronic device (or newspaper) in the other, and with openness to what the Spirit is saying to you, interpret as best you can what is going on around us and what our responses should be.

Written by Bob McMath

I was raised Southern Baptist in Texas, back when there were liberal Baptists (think, Bill Moyers). Then, for 30+ years Linda and I were active members of a Congregationalist Church in Atlanta. Fourteen years ago, I found my way into the Episcopal Church in Atlanta, mainly through a chance encounter with Benedictine spirituality and monastic practice. I immediately knew that I was home.

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