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Going Somewhere?

Herod intends to search for the Child and do away with Him
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-5; Colossians 3:12-21; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Sermon Week The Holy Family Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 2:13

The Gospel of Matthew is the first Gospel in the New Testament order. It contains the most complete record of Jesus' teachings. In the Early Church, it was used as a manual of instruction for new Christians.

It begins with the Nativity Story, partly told in today's Gospel Lesson. You'll remember that King Herod sends a detachment of soldiers to Bethlehem to kill the children. And at the end of the Gospel, a squad of soldiers is assigned to kill the prisoner, Jesus. Yet, within this framework, the Gospel of Matthew emphasizes peace -- over-and-over-again the peace of God.

The Nativity Story, as told in Matthew's Gospel, is well-known, of course. The Wise Men came from the East to worship the Christ Child. They had seen in a star a sign that a King was to be born, and they followed the star in the spirit of great anticipation and great joy. And they went into the place where the Child was born, and they fell and worshipped Him, and they opened their treasures to Him.

What an incredible story that is! But Matthew builds it around the jealousy and the hatred and the fear in King Herod that generated his murderous intent. "Herod intends to search for the Child and do away with Him," the angel of the Lord says to Joseph in a dream (Mt. 2:13).

To carry out that intent, Herod tried deceit at first. He summoned the Wise Men and said to them: "Go and find out all about the Child, and when you have found Him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage" (Mt. 2:8). But the Wise Men outwitted King Herod and did not report back to him. "He became "furious," Matthew tells us. He became so fearful that he sent his soldiers out to kill all the male children in the region who were two years old and under.

An often-quoted statement of the late Thomas Merton is that "Fear is the root of war." Actually, fear is the root of war and many [...]


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