Matthew 2:13-23 (NRSV)
Verse 13Now 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." Verse 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, Verse 15and 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."
Verse 16When 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. Verse 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: Verse 18"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."
Verse 19When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, Verse 20"Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child's life are dead." Verse 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. Verse 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. Verse 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He will be called a Nazorean."
Amid the joy of the Christmas season, these words from Matthew’s Gospel are a jarring reminder that violence and tyranny are enduring companions in this world. Still today we see the bloody and vicious actions of despots—in Ukraine, Syria, Uganda, and the lost boys of Sudan. Violence is as ubiquitous as the air we breathe. In our country, we don’t have to look any further than the deaths of beautiful children in school shootings. Jesus’ entry into the dark world of tyrant kings gives us a choice—we can trust in the armed brutality of violent power, or we can trust in the naked vulnerability of love. Followers of Jesus speak justice, live justice, and are aligned with the heart of God. We carry the world in our hearts. Our faith tells us the “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Violence does not have to win the day.
Lord, so many in our world suffer under tyrannical oppression. Comfort them and send us to be your instruments of grace and peace. Amen.