I’ve read the text from Matthew before.
An angel tells Joseph to take the baby and his mother and flee to Egypt, because Herod is going to search for Jesus to kill him.
And then Herod’s soldiers come to Bethlehem and kill the boys two and younger.
They probably don’t find many, numerically. In the whole area there may be 15 or 20 baby boys under 2.
But that’s 15 or 20 mothers weeping hopelessly at the actions of a king so ruthless that he had killed his own children because of the fear of their betrayal.
Where is the protection of God proclaimed by angels to Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and the magi? Not only does Jesus escape by running away, but that these baby boys are killed because of him, the one who cane to save them from their sins.
I read the text on Sunday in chapel. I barely made it through. Because among the stories of 2022 in our family is a baby boy. Ben is eleven months old, laughing when we gather, learning new foods and laughing. Learning to walk and laughing. Learning to laugh and laughing.
As Jesus would have been in those early months of his life. As the other boys of his generation born in Bethlehem.
I read the text and thought of Ben and choked up.
There is more to the story.
The babies who were martyred as a result of Jesus were not collateral damage, their lives were taken by Herod, swords guided by his brutal jealousy. And their lives were welcomed by God.
The grief was real. The weeping was real. The pain was permanent in this life but not forever. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t horrible. As I said to a dad on Sunday, even if we know there is meaning, it doesn’t remove the pain.
Sometimes Bible stories don’t have simple applications. Sometimes they are more honest than we are about life.