Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through 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 are no more.”
Today is Holy Innocents Day, a day in which we commemorate all the children who were killed in Bethlehem by King Herod as he was trying to kill the Messiah. This is one of the saddest stories in the New Testament. I am amazed at the evil of humans and the atrocities that we carry out, even in an attempt to stop God's grace and love.
A couple of years ago in the midst of the battle over how we were treating refugees at our southern border, I posted on social media reminding people that Jesus was a refugee. I was amazed at the number of people who argued that Jesus wasn't a refugee, because everyone was forced to go to their family’s hometown in order to be registered. They were talking about the Christmas story. But, even the story of Jesus’s birth is a story of refugees. Just because everyone in one region is forced to travel doesn’t mean that they are not refugees.
The sad part was that most of those arguing didn’t know the story of the Holy Innocents. Often we gloss over stories like this. Stories that show humanity’s evil nature towards a lesser and towards those who threaten us.
The story of the Holy Innocents reminds us of the violence that we are capable of. It also reminds us that we are called to live in a different way; that in Christ it is no longer “us and them”, for we are all children of God. As God’s children, we are called to care for the ones in need.
I wish we had the story of those in Egypt who cared for the holy family. Those who welcomed them and helped to protect them from Herod’s wrath. Those who informed them when it was safe to journey back to their home. I pray that I am one that welcomes those holy families that are torn from their homes today in order to find safety and shelter. I pray that our eyes are open to the needs of our brothers and sisters, regardless of human-made borders and boundaries.
In the Love of Christ,