Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Babies Give Their Lives for Jesus

Matthew 2: 13 - 18

In the very middle of our celebration of the Birth of Jesus, we stop to honor those people who sacrificed their lives so that Jesus could live and bring his message about the goodness of a loving God to all people.

The boy babies who were killed by King Herod didn't know anything about Jesus or about the Good News he would bring to the world. They were innocent bystanders in an area ruled by a cruel king, who wanted to make sure that one of his own sons would grow up to inherit his title, King of the Jews.

Matthew quotes from Jeremiah 31:15 when he talks about Rachel's grief, after her son, Joseph, was sold by his brothers to the slave traders and sent into Egypt. Rachel was one of the wives of Jacob, and the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. Ramah is north of Jerusalem in Judea and may have been the place Rachel lived after Joseph was sold into Egypt.

And we remember that Mary wept, too, when Jesus was crucified and died so that we might all have eternal life.

But it is important for us to continue with the next verse, Jeremiah 31:16, and the promise God makes to us, "But I the Lord, say to dry your tears. Someday your children will come home from the enemy's land. Then all you have done for them will be greatly rewarded. So don't lose hope. I, the Lord, have spoken."

Joseph's children did return from Egypt many years later under the leadership of Moses, and his namesake Joseph also brought Mary and Jesus back from Egypt after they had gone there to escape Herod.

Even as we are sad for people's loss, confusion, and early deaths, we remember that God's promises cross the generations and that we all end our days safe in the arms of a loving God.

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