When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Matthew 2:16
This one verse has always disturbed me. Here we are, just after Christmas - the time of joy for all children - and we have the story of the massacre of the infants. Were the wise men all that wise if they had told all these things to this infamous king who was known for killing his own children? The Greek specifies that only male children were killed but did the soldiers check every child before murdering them? How far out from Bethlehem were children killed? Herod is nothing if not thorough.
Coming out of the holidays reminds us quite brutally of reality - air strikes on Gaza, cholera epidemics in Zimbabwe, and missing children in America. Crime, violence, injustice are all around us. Those who seem wise may not make all the right decisions or confide in the most trustworthy persons. But, despite the thoroughness of evil, we still have hope. God is here in Jesus the Christ. We are not alone in our upheaval and grief.
God, we are surrounded by all the seems hopeless. Remind us this day that you are present with us, in us and through us. In Jesus' name. Amen.