There is one part of the Christmas story that is usually ignored, since it does not fit well with the idyllic image that we like to portray in this season. Nevertheless, this year it may have a special significance.
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.
This little part of the Christmas story is called Herod’s slaughter of the innocents or his massacre of the innocents. Herod had learned from magi (the wise men) about the birth of what they called “The king of the Jews.” It was Herod’s plan to allow the wise men to find this newly born baby, and when he knew of the location of this potential rival to his throne, to kill the child.
The wise men, however, were warned in a dream not to tell Herod, so they did not return to the king to tell him where the baby Christ child was to be found. When Herod understood that he had been tricked by the wise men, he carried out the despicable and hideous act of sending his henchmen to murder all of the male children of the region who were two years old or younger.
This year, we have had the agony of witnessing our own slaughter of the innocents. I know that what we have experienced has no relation to the Christmas story and it is not my wish to draw any parallels, except one. This I will do in a moment.
However, first I need to say that I have been a little dismayed that even before these little ones of Connecticut have been allowed their funerals, and before their families have had time even to begin to process their grief, we have occupied ourselves in serving our own interests. Our blogs, our facebook postings, and our editorial comments in the newspapers and on the television news have largely been occupied with the pros and cons of gun control and what we should or should not do in relation to private ownership and registration of firearms.
Not surprisingly, there seems to be little change in opinions one way or the other. What has happened is that both extremes on this issue have come up with their own statistics, analyses, facts and figures to corroborate their already predetermined opinions. Ammunition for arguments have been amassed on both sides.
I am not saying that this is not a worthwhile discussion, but somehow it seems to me that this is not quite the time. I know that many disagree with me and say that this is exactly the time, because we suddenly have been confronted with this issue. However, there is something more important we must do first – something that we cannot do if we occupy ourselves with finding backing for our arguments.
What we must first do is the single parallel I would like to make with Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. Here is how the story continues after telling of Herod’s horrific act:
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.”
I do not presume to know what any of the families involved with this dreadful incident prefer at this time, but I think I know that if it were me who was directly affected, I would not want to talk about gun control at this time. Certainly I know that I would not want to have the life of my child made ammunition for an argument on either side of the issue.
Rather than any of this, I would just prefer to be allowed the freedom to grieve the loss of my innocent one, and to look for others who would help me in my grief.
It is time to raise our voices, but not in argument. Rather, as a nation, we need to weep and lament the lives of these little ones.