Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 1 A - Matthew 2:13-23

Matthew 2:13-23
The nativity according to Matthew has none of the “we wish you a merry Christmas” charm of Luke’s version. Joseph is visited by the angel even though the Virgin Mary still does all the labor. There are no shepherds, angel choirs or a no-room-in-the-inn manger Silent Night “cattle are lowing the baby awakes.” Matthew did give us the star and the magi but the story of the princes coming to visit the peasant just sets up Bethlehem for Rachel’s inconsolable weeping. By that I mean without the Magi’s visit Herod would have been ignorant of the baby born to be King of the Jews and the Bethlehem babies of the future King would have been spared the consequence of his premature enthronement. Of course in the world that Jesus comes to serve and save the slaughter of a few innocents in a small village hardly registers on the atrocity scale. The chorus of loud lamentation began when Eve found Abel’s bloodied body and has continued unabated to this day. There is no “good news” in this story and no amount of exegetical gymnastics will get us there. Rachel cannot be consoled. But the good news that comes later in the Gospel is that the baby Jesus grown to be a man will not escape the fate of his counterparts born in Bethlehem. He dies for them and for Rachel and for the soldiers who following orders did the deed and I would suggest even for the psychopath Herod. Jesus dies because the world God imagined in the beginning became so familiar with atrocity it could only be saved by something it could not ultimately destroy. So God in Jesus as the innocent victim met hatred and violence face to face and for a day or two let it do what Herod hoped to accomplish but on the third day broke the chains of death so that Rachel’s weeping might become a song of exaltation. (Psalm 118) The good news is that Jesus escapes King Herod as a baby in Bethlehem so he can die as a man in Jerusalem which means you and I and everyone else can live to serve a different sort of King.

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