Many Christians think that Jesus did not enter into the political fray. No disparaging name-calling for him. I can't stand the "Gentle Jesus meek and mild" version of Christianity, particularly as portrayed in modern forms as a gentle-faced, fairish blue-eyed Jesus. The scriptures might say He was meek - but do we understand what that word means to-day? And Jesus was certainly far from mild. In Luke 13:32, Jesus refers to the then reigning member of the Herods as a fox. I wonder where that view, that description came from?
I think of a family living in Nazareth. Like all families there are stories and "remember whens". How huge a thing in the life of the Ben David family it must have been when Joseph and Mary, warned by an angel, fled with their young son into Egypt to escape the massacre of young children by Herod the Great (Matthew 2:13). There they remained until there was a change in political leadership from Herod the Great to his son, Archelaus.
When the Ben David family returned from Egypt they did not go back to Bethlehem but to Nazareth. Even if the boy Jesus had no memory of his own regarding these events, he would have been immersed in his family's history and story. How could a family have retold this story without making political comment or passing on a view of those who instigated their refugee status?
The Herod Jesus refers to in Luke is another son of Herod the Great, Antipas: Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; political opportunist and collaborator under Roman rule in Judaea. Surely, Herod Antipas was a fox indeed: sly, wily, treading warily through the pitfalls and pratfalls of Roman rule. Would the Herods have kept alive the story of the massacre of the little children? I think not. But the Ben David family did. Only by divine intervention did they save a very precious son.
To-morrow, 28 December, the Massacre of the Holy Innocents is remembered. The children who died because of the bloodlust and envy of a powerful and wily king have never been forgotten by the Christian church.
To-morrow in Melbourne, the remembrance will take a contemporary turn:
Wednesday 28 December, 10 am – 11.30 am: Feast of Holy Innocents Peace Procession
In the days after Christmas, while most people are recovering from the indulgence of Christmas Day or deeply immersed in the liturgy of the Boxing Day Test, the Church calendar commemorates the Holy Innocents, the children killed by Herod in a bid to maintain his power and privilege. This is a part of the Christmas story which gets little attention in churches, yet it forms a major part of the biblical birth narrative. It is a day when we remember children and other innocent people killed by today’s Herods, who consider such innocents to be acceptable collateral damage in their quest for power and security. Children are still the most deeply affected by wars around the globe – 65% of Afghans are under the age of 18. 90% of those killed in wars are civilians. Join us for a peace procession from Victoria Barracks in Melbourne to Defence Plaza. We will begin at 10 am with prayers at Victoria Barracks on St Kilda Road, and process to Defence Plaza, 661 Bourke St. Melbourne, for further prayer and reflection.
Children of war: fight, dying, surviving
"The source of most human violence and suffering has been a hidden children's holocaust throughout history, whereby billions of innocent human beings have been routinely murdered, bound, starved, raped, mutilated, battered and tortured by their parents and other caregivers, so that they grow up as emotionally crippled adults and become vengeful time bombs who periodically restage their early traumas in sacrificial rites called wars."
- Lloyd DeMause
Hat Tip to Iain Macadair
Hat Tip to Iain Macadair