Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 698. I John 1:5-2:2. Psalm 124:2-3.4-5.7-8. Matthew
I John is a remarkable epistle based on the two themes of love and faith
throughout. From this inspired writing we learn that God is love! Today I
John leads us into our liturgical feast of the holy martyrs, the Innocents
who lost their life under Herod the Great's son. John calls the listeners,
"my little ones." The theme of Jesus' love is seen in the fact of Jesus
shedding his blood for the forgiveness of sins and for our reconciliation
with one another. We learn from Matthew alone that these innocent children
shed their blood because of the power hungry puppet king who was threatened
by the news of a baby king who had been born recently. The Psalm captures
the silent prayer of the innocents and their mothers in one of its verses,
"Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth."
Matthew narrates how the wisemen (the Magi) prudently depart from the
territory of Herod and keep the whereabouts of the new born king from the
tetrarch. Joseph and Mary take the child to Egypt till they will hear the
news of Herod's death. But before he dies this tyrant has martyred the
children that were male and under two years of age. Matthew captures the
sorrow of the mothers by citing a passage from the prophet Jeremiah which
historically laments the exile of the northern tribes of Israel to Assyrian
tyrants. In the prophecy we learn that Rachel weeps because of their loss;
they are her progeny. Matthew sees a similarity to what Jeremiah says in
the slaughter of the holy innocents. Rachel represents all mothers who
lose their sons and daughters through violence, abuse, or kidnapping and
often through murder.
According to the later rabbinic commentary on the passage from Jeremiah
(Rab.Gen.82:10), Jacob buries Rachel in a tomb near Bethlehem on the way to
Ramah--the place Matthew is assigning to the martyrdom of the innocent baby
boys under two. Jacob knew that his descendants would travel this road
into exile. Rachel is weeping for her children to return home. Amen.
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