1 John 1:5--2:2
Psalm 124:2-3, 4-5, 7-8
If we keep our heads about us and donít let the frenzy of the season intrude too deeply, the anticipation of Advent followed by the blessings of Christmas fill us with joy. It is a time of family and remembrances and thankfulness for all that we have been given, with the ultimate gift being the birth of Jesus. Our thoughts of that first Christmas are filled with the sweetness of the child in the manger and of Mary as the perfect embodiment of motherhood.
Perhaps because this experience of happiness is so fresh in our hearts, thinking about todayís Gospel is so beyond understanding. Sometime within two years after Jesusís birth, Joseph and Mary, still not fully comprehending the miracle that they have been given, are warned that Herod wants to murder their child. In a state of panic and fear, they leave Bethlehem for Egypt giving up all that they know and all whom they love so that they might save their child. Then, while they find safety, Herod is so infuriated that he calls for the murder of all the young boys in Bethlehem.
Mary and Joseph could not disassociate themselves from the horror they were leaving behind. Their act of protecting their childís safety results in tragedy for other mothers and fathers. We donít know of a sadder line than that from todayís Gospel, ďRachel would not be consoled since her children were no more.Ē We feel the pain when we learn that someone has lost a child. There is no grief as deep; there is no touch that can lessen the hurt. We hold our own children tightly and give thanks for their safety and we pray that nothing will ever harm them.
Of course, we donít know what Mary thought but it would be so difficult to accept that someone could so hate a small child that he would call for the childís death. This was no doubt a foretelling to Mary of what she might have to experience in the future, a constant fear that she would come to live with. And what of her thoughts of her neighbors and friends in Bethlehem who suffered such a great loss? If she could, how would she reach out to them and what would she say?
But our thoughts today go to Rachel and all the other mothers lost
in their grief. How do we reach out to them, and what should we say?
We donít know, so we hold our children tightly.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook