Tuesday 28 December 2010

Bible Book:

"A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel is weeping for her children." (v. 15)

Jeremiah 31:15-17 Tuesday 28 December 2010


Today is Holy Innocent's Day when Christians remember theslaughter of children in Bethlehem by Herod's soldiers followinghis anger at the news of Jesus' birth (as told in chapter 2 of Matthew's Gospel). 

Characteristically of Matthew's Gospel, the account makes frequentuse of references to Old Testament prophecies, in this case theprophecies of Jeremiah from which our passage is taken. 

The setting of the book of Jeremiah is of course very different andtakes place some hundred of years earlier. It's likely that thisparticular passage comes from a series of prophecies in whichJeremiah is speaking about the return of exiles from the Northernkingdom who had been taken into captivity in Assyria. Although now,says the prophet, there is "lamentation" in Ramah with "Rachelweeping for her children", he goes on to proclaim that the Lordsays "there is hope for your future" and that "your children shallcome back to their own country" (verse 17). 

For Matthew, this helps to provide a model for what happens toJesus and the Holy Family, both in their flight to Egypt (away fromthe threat of Herod's soldiers) and in their subsequent return toNazareth (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23), Joseph's home townwhere Jesus grows up. Moreover, it reminds us that the ongoingsuffering of children and refugees in war-torn countries today isan experience which the Bible records as being shared by Jesus andhis family. 

To Ponder

According to Matthew's account, Jesus' familyshare in the experience of being refugees. How does this help us tounderstand the vulnerability of Christ's incarnation?

In the midst of our Christmas celebrations, whatcan we do to remember and support those who find themselvesvulnerable as refugees?

Is this an issue that we should be taking up morepublicly as part of our faith? If so, what can you do?

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