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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In today’s reading, Herod responds to Jesus with anger, fear, and violence. He is furious because he believes the Magi deceived him. Fearful that Jesus will become a great king and take over his power and position, Herod tries to kill Jesus by ordering the massacre of boys two years old and under. Caring only for himself, Herod caused pain and suffering to many people. Unfortunately, even today selfishness and fearful people in our world hurt and kill others – even innocent children – in an attempt to maintain positions of authority and power.
We may think that we are not like Herod, but although our actions may not be as dramatic as his, we may have similar motivations. Often I ask myself how I respond to Jesus when I encounter him in and through others. If I am allowing God’s love to work in me, I respond with love, hope, and forgiveness. If I am concerned about myself or my position, I sometimes respond with anger, fear, or even violent words.
Some questions I ask myself:
How do I respond when family members or co-workers upset me?
Am I tempted to be angry with them and talk about them behind their backs or do I work at forgiveness and reconciliation?
When a co-worker receives a promotion or an award do I respond with joy or jealousy for the person?
When I encounter a homeless or needy person, do I take time for him or her?
As we continue to celebrate the birth of Christ, let us take a moment to pray for the grace to respond to everyone we encounter with love, hope, and forgiveness.
—Brother John Moriconi, S.J., a noted mandolinist, is provincial’s secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit Province.
Father, you created me and put me on earth for a purpose.
Jesus, you died for me and call me to complete your work.
Holy Spirit, you help me to carry out the work for which I was created and called. May all my thoughts and inspirations have their origin in you and be directed to your glory.