The Gospel according to Matthew (2:13-18)
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.
This is a hard Gospel for any parent to contemplate. I can scarcely imagine what those parents went through, whose little boys were cruelly murdered on the orders of King Herod. The closest I can come was something I heard in the news that shook me to my core. In October, 1994, a woman named Susan Smith murdered her two toddler sons by leaving them in her car and pushing it into a lake. I still recall the horror I felt when I heard that on the news as I was driving home from work that day. At the time, my wife Linda and I had two sons, one who was three and a younger one just a few months old. They were very close in age to the two boys that were killed. In my heart, I cried out to God for how He could let something like that happen.
In the end, I realized that, distant as the actual event was from me, I still was incredibly touched by it. I would like to say that I found some kind of solace in that horrible occurrence, but I don’t think I ever have. It was just a very sad reminder that there is evil in our world, and pain, and that horrible act was from both of those qualities. It is very sad to think that Susan Smith lived in such darkness that she committed such an act. What do we do as followers of Christ?
The first thing we do is shine the light of Christ in our own world. We may not think it matters, but it truly does. We really have no idea how a kind act, a kind word, a smile can change the life of the one who receives it. If we shine the light where we can, maybe that person who receives our kind act will “pay it forward” and show kindness and compassion to someone else, further spreading the light. Who knows how far that light may spread! The second thing we can do is to pray for all who are in darkness. God alone knows the hearts of all His children. He alone can draw those in darkness to Himself. But, He still needs us to be His hands and feet, and His voice. May we pray that we can help someone find the light, in whatever way we can. That’s the lesson in this Gospel that is so difficult. And for all the innocents who lose their lives at no fault of their own – may the Lord receive them all and carry them to His bosom, and cradle them forever.
Action for the Day: Be mindful of how your actions touch others. Do something kind. In fact, focus on being kind today, doing as many kind actions as you can.