Saturday, June 16, 2018
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” – Matthew 2:6-8
Matthew knows how this account of the furious Herod venting his rage on the families in the region of Bethlehem would stir moral outrage in the Judeo-Christian communities. It is a sacred bond, this bond of mother and child. How iconic is the image of Mary holding the Christ Child. No worse moral transgression can there be, this ripping the children out of the arms of the mother.
I think of the horrific scene in Sophies’ Choice when the Nazi guard executes a cruel law all the more cruelly by separating child from mother. That Nazi guard was on one level obeying the law; but on so many other levels, he was disobeying the moral imperative. When I revisit that scene I always cry.
Throughout history, all despots use ever intensifying methods of intimidation to aggrandize their power and to work their will. It is in the nature of this particular demon to lust for more and more self-aggrandizement. They lust for the salutes of the frenzied loyalists and the fearful crowd; they lust for absolute loyalty and control.
The early Church went through a series of shifting persecutions. First by Herod, an egotistical despot, a man who declared himself to be of a priestly caste; then by the Caesars who considered themselves to be as gods. Through all these waves of persecution, the early Church obeyed where they could morally obey, but resisted where they could not morally obey.
Evil persists through the centuries, but thankfully also does the Good.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz