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Rachel’s Tears and Ours
Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (Matthew 2:16-18)
Today, on the Feast of Holy Innocents, we remember that Christmastide is not a sentimental season. Tinsel and ivy go hand in hand with burial shrouds and funeral bouquets.
The first Nativity scene included Herod’s soldiers right beside the shepherds and magi. Our Lord’s first teetering steps were made in blood-stained sands.
Even as a babe in arms He was a “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” When the angelic anthems had faded from recent memory, the next voice heard was the wailing of Ramah. While Mary rejoiced, Rachel wept. Her children were gone.
Since thirty minutes this side of Eden, the seed of the serpent has relentlessly pursued the Seed of the Woman seeking its annihilation—from the muddy banks of the Nile, to the cobblestone alleys of Bethlehem, to the crimson wombs of young mothers at their wit’s end.
Every evening at six o’clock we hear the tragic news of young lives lost, promising futures snatched away by violence. And if you listen closely you can hear the distant echo of Rachel weeping for her children.
So on this holy day of Christmastide we mourn with those who mourn. God treasures such tears, putting them in bottles. And grieving parents find a special place near the heart of God—He too once lost a Son.
Just so, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope.
The “Boy Who Lived” will die that all may live again. Those tiny souls under the altar who now behold the face of God will rise at the last day. The night of weeping shall give way to the great morning of joy.