Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they were no more.” -Matthew 2: 16-18 (Gospel Reading, Sunday after Christmas)
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
In this joy of this season, in the glory of this story of Christ’s Nativity, there is one dark chapter that must be mentioned, which is the slaughter of the innocents by King Herod. When I read this Gospel passage each year during the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday after the Nativity, I always get tears in my eyes as I read the phrase “Rachel weeping for her children.” I think of the sadness in the world, of mothers and fathers who don’t have their children at Christmas because they have succumbed to disease, accident, war, terrorism, or any other factor that causes premature death. I also think of people who are like King Herod-people who wish to harm the message of Christianity and those who adhere to it. Indeed, in many corners of the world, “Rachel is still weeping for her children.”
Please take a moment today to thank God for His blessings. Pray for those who are weeping today for whatever reason. I ‘m sure there are some you know, and many more that you don’t. Many of these reflections include some call to action. Today’s call is for all of us to be a little more attentive-make sure you know the person who works next to you in the office, or who lives next door, or who sits next to you in the pews on Sunday. Part of loving our neighbor means comforting our neighbor, and in order to do that, we have to know our neighbor, so we know who needs a shoulder to cry on. We all have to work at creating environments which let our neighbors know that we are ready and willing to do that.
In John 1: 4-5, we read “In Him (the Word) was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Only the Light of Christ, and the hope found in Him, can dry the tears of Rachel and soften the heart of Herod. “Let your Light so shine before men (Matt. 5: 16),” so that you can be a help to those who need help, in whatever way help is needed.
Since the Lord Jesus was born of the holy Virgin, the universe has been illumined. Shepherds were keeping watch, and Magi were adoring Him, and Angels were singing praises, and Herod was troubled; for God appeared in the flesh, yes, the Savior of our souls. (Stichera from Vespers of the Nativity. Trans. Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Give an extra hug to someone today!
~Father Stavros N. Akrotirianakis, LET ALL CREATION REJOICE: Reflections for Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany