by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The Gospel for Sunday, Jan. 4:
Matthew 2: 1-25
This Sunday we remember the slaughter of the innocent boys of Bethlehem, killed by Herod as he tries to get rid of any possible competition, even if that competition is newly born and not likely to challenge him for decades. We remember the Magi who alerted Herod on their way to pay their respects, and we remember the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, transformed overnight into refugees.
Let us take a minute to think about the modern Herods in our world. We see no shortage of evil dictators who slaughter whole swaths of the population for a variety of reasons.
Let us take a minute to think about the Holy Family, transformed into refugees, fleeing for their lives with just the clothes on their backs. Here in our modern world, we see no shortage of people transformed from regular citizens to refugees in just a matter of hours.
Maybe we don't want to think on a huge, global scale. The human brain was not meant for such horror. Some of us become immobilized. But we could help refugees on a smaller scale.
There's always money that we could donate, but maybe we want a more hands-on project. I stumbled across this blog post about a mom who homeschools and the Christmas project of making Christmas bags for foster children, many of whom leave abusive homes with just the clothes on their backs.
It's also a good day to consider the ways we are Herod. How do we lash out to protect ourselves? We may not literally slaughter a whole town of babies, but most of us could do better at nourishing the next generations: the kids in our churches, the students in our schools, the younger folks in the work force.
As we remember the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, let us recommit ourselves to love. We can resolve to let love rule our actions, not fear. We can also resolve to help those who are harmed by the Herods of our world.
The older I get, the more I appreciate the actions of the early church. These days that honor martyrs coming so close to Christmas--it makes more sense now. But I also pray for the time that we will not have to remember the horrors that humanity can inflict. I hold fast to that Christmas vision of light shining in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.