Sunday, January 13, 2008

More thoughtful material on the Magi

Jane Stranz posts a piece on the Magi by Dr Manoj Kurian on her blog: Of Life, Laughter, and Liturgy. He speaks of the dark and light side of the narative in Matthew's gospel, particularly the massacre of the Holy Innocents.

"The unfortunate massacre took place because the Magi initially searched for God in the wrong place. When they initially targeted their search to Palestine they decided that the final identification could be made with the assistance of the rich and the powerful.

The Christian community has traditionally considered these children as martyrs and as Saints and commemorate this sad event as Childermas, Children's Mass or Holy Innocents' Day. In the gospel the massacre of the holy innocents comes after the story of the Magi. Yet the western church's marking of that date coming after Christmas on the 28th of December and before celebrating the Epiphany in January 6th seems almost to hide this story away – almost as if it would be rather bad taste to have such a sad unpleasant story spoiling the celebration of Christmas and Epiphany.
So by conveniently separating this sad event and the celebrations of Epiphany, we risk losing the holistic understanding of the consequences of Epiphany. By sanctifying and elevating to sainthood the massacred children we cannot sanitise the fact that the martyred children were victims of raw human greed for power and control and their massacre was the horrific consequence of wise people searching for God and salvation in the wrong place."

There is much to ponder here. Is there a cause and effect between the Magi and the slaughter of the innocents in the narrative of Matthew or is the story of Herod's murderous rage a tragic result of a flawed man in a powerful office? Other narrative consequences ensue: without the massacre of the children, Joseph would not have been instructed by an angel to "take the child and his mother"and flee to Egypt.

1 comment:

Simon Barrow said...

How nice to have my friends linking through the blogosphere like this :)

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