Slaughter of the Innocents (detail), Duccio di Buoninsegna, via Wikimedia Commons
We give you thanks for the babe born in violence.
We give you thanks for the miracle of Bethlehem,
born into the Jerusalem heritage.
We do not understand why the innocents must be slaughtered;
we know that your kingdom comes in violence and travail.
Our time would be a good time for your kingdom to come,
because we have had enough of violence and travail.
So we wait with eager longing,
and with enormous fear,
because your promises
do not coincide with our favorite injustices.
We pray for the coming of your kingdom on earth
as it is around your heavenly throne.
We are people grown weary of waiting.
We dwell in the midst of cynical people,
and we have settled for what we can control.
We do know that you hold initiative for our lives,
that your love planned our salvation
before we saw the light of day.
And so we wait for your coming,
in your vulnerable baby
in whom all things are made new.
Walter Brueggemann, 1933 -, American Protestant Old Testament theologian
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”