Innocent children slaughtered.
This gruesome news shook the world in recent days. A lone gunman massacred 20 schoolchildren in the affluent town of Newtown, Connecticut, considered a very peaceful and safe place in the US.
This was exactly what happened in the small town of Bethlehem in the year that Jesus was born. The first Christmas was not festive nor luxurious as it is today. It was awfully dark. The woeful sound of weeping mothers competed with the gusty sound of the winter wind.
Our Biblical history tells us that the magi went to Judea in search of the newborn King of the Jews, having "seen his star in the east." They were directed to the small village of Bethlehem, and King Herod asked them to let him know who this King was when they found him.
The magi found Jesus and honored him, but an angel told them not to go back to Herod, so they returned home by another route.
When Herod realized he had been outwitted by the magi, he was livid. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with what had been announced to him by the magi. He was afraid of losing his throne to this newborn King.
Meanwhile, Joseph was alerted by an angel in a dream about Herod's dastard plan to kill Jesus and instructed him to escape to Egypt. In was in this atmosphere of great grief and fear that Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus left for Egypt in the night and stayed there until the death of Herod.
Thus, Christians believe that the prophecy in the old testament was fulfilled. In Jeremiah 31:15 we read, “A cry is heard in Ramah—deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted—for her children are gone.”
There is indeed deep anguish and bitter weeping among the mothers in Newtown. They are inconsolable, as mothers were in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago.
While we mothers in this side of the world silently grieve with the mothers in Newtown and any part of the world where children are suffering from disease or calamity, we are simultaneously grateful that despite the occasional storm of living, Christ came to us on Christmas—and this ignites in us a spark of rejoicing.
This spirit of thanksgiving overpowers the grief, and we celebrate with family—the God-given children who have grown up and have remained healthy.
|Looks bigger than its actual weight of 5.4 kilos|
|Tony's handiwork outside|
|Chef JR's (and his aide's) handiwork inside|
|Old-fashioned potato salad and spinach go-with|
|Australian wine from my brother Earl and family|
|In his haste for the drumstick, JC wore last year's shirt|
|I received zero gifts from family this Christmas :D Well, they're gifts more than their weight in gold . . . and ice-cream|
|A family shot by Ate Vi for posterity|
There is always that silent wish, of course, that we could all be together to celebrate the coming of the King (son No. 2, daughter-in-law, and grandchild are 15,000 miles across the Pacific ocean), but here, there, or anywhere—in anguish or in joy, apart or together—Christmas is and always will be.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth on Christmas and bringing love and hope for all, including mothers who weep. Amen.