Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Slaughter of the Innocents

Evil remains ever close at hand, and even the most peaceful, solemn occasions are often broken by acts of seemingly senseless violence. Such is the case in Bethlehem as the deranged despot named Herod vents his angry paranoia on the innocent children of this little village. As the church's first martyrs they deserve our reflective attention this day, remembering especially that our Lord Jesus came into the world himself to suffer and die. Christmas is too often painted in soft gentle hues that fail to reflect the harsh colors of this world's real sin and evil that made the event of his incarnation a necessity for the salvation of the world. The Slaughter of the Innocents reveals that the heart of Christmas is that God came into our troubled, dying world, for the express purpose of saving it. The name with which he was christened, Jesus, in fact, means "Yahweh saves." It was a dangerous mission and in the end brought death even for the sent savior. Christmas points to Good Friday, a truth even the Magi may have recognized as they gave him the gift of myrrh, a spice for burial. Today we indeed grieve the terrible slaughter of these children, yet we rejoice even more in the mercy of God for them and for us, and the victory over death which Christ secured in his own resurrection.

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