Day Thirty-Six: Overcoming the Darkness

January 4, 2020
By Marco Bonilla


By Marco Bonilla

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.” (Matthew 2:16, NIV)

My little brother died when I was two and a half years old. I can still recall the sadness in our home during that time. My parents mourned him all their lives and could not talk about his death for decades. Losing a child is an immensely devastating tragedy for any family. We cannot even imagine the despair of those parents whose babies were massacred by Herod’s butchers over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.

I find it remarkable the Apostles did not shy away from telling us about such atrocities, but rather left us vivid images of the tragic events which Christ, his family, and disciples endured. The Gospel writers want us to read their words as honestly as they were written, without attempting to diminish the truth. For the light of the Gospels to shine truthfully today, we must recognize the darkness through which God’s light powerfully shines.

As Saint John wrote:  “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John1:5, NIV).” And as the O Little Town of Bethlehem Christmas carol also says:  “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.”

A reason for Herod’s despicable act not being recorded outside the Bible is given by some scholars, who claim the number of children killed was not thousands but perhaps twenty. We must not take solace in a smaller number, but remember every life is infinitely valuable to God. Yes, each of our lives is so valuable to Him, that his only Son was born in Bethlehem to save us all.

Saint Matthew’s story of the “Slaughter of the Innocents” reminds us life can be terribly hard. However, while celebrating Jesus’ redeeming birth this season, their murders call us to deeper reflection and prayer. Let us take note that despite Herod’s considerable political power and abominable malice, he still could not kill Jesus.

Following God’s revelation, Joseph was told to escape with his family to Egypt and so they did. We are in God’s hands and He will take care of us, despite what the plans of governments or tyrants or earthly powers may be now or in the future.

Let’s pray for God to help us hear his voice, understand his Word, and know his plans for our lives. For the prophet Isaiah told us: “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV).