December 28, 2022
In our gospel reading today, an angel of the Lord appeared in Joseph’s dream to take the child and mother to Egypt. The Lord spared the child Jesus and his mother Mary from the tyrant Herod who ordered the massacre of all the boys of Bethlehem and its vicinity, two years old and under. As the child was spared from the massacre, there was innocent bloodshed for those who were left. With that, there was great mourning in the land as Matthew quoted the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”
This gospel pericope presents an obvious paradox – the child Jesus spared but the innocent infants massacred. We might have grumbled about how God could allow such detestable massacre of infants. He should have used power to spare every child from it. He should have sent angels to warn them. Nevertheless, God spared the child Jesus from Herod’s massacre so that he can live to complete all of God’s will for his life, including the atonement for the sins of the entire humanity. There was mourning for the innocent bloodshed yet a sigh of relief because the child Jesus was spared.
This is what Christian life is, a life of paradoxes. A year ago, we were struck and ravaged by super-typhoon Odette. We celebrated Christmas without electricity, cellular phone signals, and even damaged churches and houses. Apo Hiking Society’s song, “Tuloy na tuloy pa rin ang Pasko,” became more meaningful to us. True, we were devastated, yet we realized what truly mattered in life and it has nonetheless deepened our faith in God.
Now, we are still in this prolonged crisis. We do not know what lies ahead. Now, new covid variants are spreading. Aside from the pandemic, our sisters and brothers in Ukraine and Russia are facing another crisis, war. It has been more or less eight months since the major escalation of the conflict began. Terrifying, dreadful, and depressing but it is happening, it is real. Yes, we are not sure of what might happen next but we can hold on to a God of generosity and of mercy. Let us be consoled by the words of the prophet Isaiah, “do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Is 41:10).
There can be no assurance of what might happen in the future, there may be confusion, doubts, and obscurities in our faith life. But, one thing is certain. Our God is a God who is so in love with us that he gave us his only begotten Son (cf. John 3:16), a God who remains faithful amidst our unfaithfulness (2 Timothy 2:13), and a God who is love (cf. 1 John). Our God saves!
Has there been a paradox in your life? How did you resolve, or plan to resolve, it?