Back to Herod

When Jesus was a child not more than two years old his neighborhood became too dangerous to live in. All the toddlers were being murdered. Not because they were toddlers, but because desperate and violent men were so blinded by their lust for power that somehow killing children seemed rational. So Jesus left his home country and made his way to Egypt.

How fortunate, Lord, that you emigrated to Egypt and didn’t try coming to America. An immigrant child fleeing for his life with his working class family would not find welcome here. No refuge for the one who is our Refuge, no help for our Helper, no room for the one who came to offer us the hospitality of heaven.

And no wonder–letting you in turns out to be too dangerous after all. Your presence unsettles comfortable prejudices and demands that we acknowledge the truth or else blind ourselves with lies. When we turn away from the poor, the helpless, the orphans and widows, the blind and the lame–and when we do it with excuses about justice and righteousness or on supposed grounds of a theory of government or, worse, an idea of what the church is–have we not denied our Savior? “What you do to the least, you do to me,” you said.

To refuse to admit that “love your neighbor as yourself” necessarily means “love your neighbor’s children as your own children” is to put an asterisk next to the second greatest commandment and confuse the issue with fine print full of disclaimers and exclusions that amount to a belief (or hope?) that the Royal Law has nothing really to do with our actual lives after all.

Lord, how we take your name in vain and don’t even recognize it! We would have sent you back to Herod. I just know it.