The Fourth Day of Christmas brings with it some nightmare readings!
The Slaughter of the Innocents is recounted, that terrifying story of Herod ordering all the males under two years old to be killed. This is paired with readings that are the antithesis of this. In Mark 10, Jesus welcome the little children, and in Matthew 18 he challenges his disciples to do the same.
As the Christmas story reveals itself, we quickly realize that Christ was born into a hostile and hard world that literally hunts him down. The story is dark and wrought with trouble ahead. This story continues to play out in our world today with the often horrific treatment of refugees and immigrants.
It is hard to make heads or tails of this story, and why the gospel writer decided to include it. Here are my thoughts on why: 1) Love is stronger than Hate, 2) God will find a way, and 3) Jesus threatens the established power – don’t forget that!
Herod was power hungry. The arrival of a Messiah, at the least meant political disturbance in an important region, but at its worst threatened Herod’s power. And while Jesus came not looking for political power, he nonetheless threatened the establishment. We come to see this in its full force in the book of Acts, where many new disciples do not fit the norm of political correctness. They venture out proclaiming new allegiances and new modes of being.
Is it not the same today? We are not hunted down like Herod’s slaughter, but we Christians still threaten the establishment. We include all and welcome all, in a world that builds walls, demonizes those that are different, continues to cast out gays, women, minorities, you name it.
We come to testify to the Light, that God’s ways are not the world’s ways, that we march to a different tune, where even children have equal standing in God’s eyes, where wealth is shared (look at all the new disciples in Acts), and where love reigns over fear and war.
Imagine a world where everyone loves one another? How would political parties survive if we were all one? What purpose would the military industrial complex hold if we all loved each other?
Jesus came to upend the rich and powerful. And although he did not do that politically, he threatens nonetheless, preaching a gospel of Love and goodwill over all the earth.
Be a radical with me today.