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Posts Tagged ‘sermon on Matthew 2:18’

Scholars think that about twenty children were murdered in and around the village of Bethlehem by order of Herod.  Today, December 14, 2012, twenty more were murdered, along with some of their teachers, in Newtown, Connecticut.

Matthew 2:18 quoting Jeremiah reads: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”

Lord, have mercy on us all!

Here is a repost of a sermon I wrote on this text years ago for the first Baptism of the Lord Sunday after 9-11.  When will Rachel be able to dry her tears?

Rachel’s Tears

December 22, 2010 by Mary Harris Todd | Edit

Floor mosaic Strage degli Innocenti (Slaughter...Matteo di Giovanni, floor mosaic, Cathedral of Siena (detail)

Rachel’s Tears
A Sermon on Matthew 2:13-23 with allusions to Isaiah 25:6-9 and Revelation 21:1-4

One person can cause unbelievable amounts of pain, especially if a few people cooperate and a lot of people look the other way.  No wonder all Jerusalem was disturbed when the Wise Men brought the news of a baby King of the Jews.  All Jerusalem knew what King Herod was capable of if he felt there was the least threat to his position.  Already he had ordered the execution of one of his wives, her mother, several of his sons, three hundred of his court officials, and countless others.  Later, shortly before his death, Herod ordered the imprisonment of a number of the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem.  At the moment of his death, all these innocents were killed, so that there would be weeping and wailing in Judea.  Herod was well aware that no one would mourn his passing.

What did the lives of the children of Bethlehem matter to Herod?  Compared to the rivers of blood he had already spilled, what did he care about the blood of the twenty or so infants and toddlers that lived in the village?  When the Wise Men failed to return with the intelligence Herod needed to zero in on Jesus, he ordered his soldiers to search out and destroy every child in Bethlehem age two and under.  Jesus would surely be among them.

In a dream, Joseph received a warning about this evil plan.  In a flash he was up, waking Mary, and hurrying to pack a few essentials.  There was no time for more.  In the dead of night they slipped away as quietly and as quickly as they could, leaving everything behind.  Now they were refugees.  Now they would have to find a way to survive in a strange land.  Joseph would have to start all over again: find food, find shelter, find work.  Jesus’ earliest memories would be not of home, but of Egypt.

Soon there was weeping and wailing all over Bethlehem.

The pain was beyond description.  It was mother Rachel weeping for her lost children, says Matthew.  Mother Rachel was one of the mothers of the children of Israel.  She died giving birth to Israel’s son, Benjamin.  Tradition had it that she was buried in the vicinity of Bethlehem.  Weeping Rachel was the image of inconsolable grief.  And years later, when the children of Israel were being killed or carried off into exile, first by Assyria and then by Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah said, “A sound is heard in Ramah, says the Lord, the sound of bitter weeping.  Rachel is crying for her children; they are gone, and she refuses to be comforted.”

That’s what happened in Bethlehem.  A voice was heard in the land.  It was Mother Rachel weeping and wailing because her children are no more.  On September 11 a voice was heard in this land, crying out for the thousands of mothers’ children who are no more, because of the likes of Herod now—joining the cries around the world for millions of refugees and millions of mothers’ children who are no more, because of the likes of Herod now.  In the Sudan.  In Kosovo.  In Rwanda.  In Palestine.  In Israel.  In Afghanistan.  In the United States.

Let no one minimize this pain.  It is very great.  (more…)

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