A number of people have quoted that in the last few days, and it’s right. But Rachel isn’t the one I think of when I think of the events in
I think of it especially when I think of this Advent and these latest atrocities. This season when we’re to think of both beginnings and endings, of newly born babes and God’s judgment at the end of time. I think of how our children never really grow up in our hearts, and how painful and horrible and random life seems to be.
Nobody wants to acknowledge what is a fact today – whether you live on the east coast of the USA, the Henan province village of Chenping in China, Dunblane Scotland, Taber, Alberta in Canada or any place this is suffering civil unrest – that violence and random death are everywhere, even in communities that seem to be centres of caring, committed and loving people who cherish their children and each other.
We are all groping for answers, trying to find a reason, rational or otherwise for what’s happened, so we can prevent this from happening again, to protect our children from the violence that hides so close to home. Some of us call for greater gun control, others for more stringent security measures at schools, still others want to know the thought processes that drive someone to an act of such desperation. We want better ways of predicting and controlling and helping the people who are tormented enough to perpetrate this kind of violence on our most helpless and powerless. Some blame the fact that there is no prayer in schools, that we’ve banned God from the public school system.
But God doesn’t obey our rules. We may have told Him he’s not welcome, we may have shown Jesus and His mother the door, but they don’t pay any attention. They were in the closet, the gym and the halls with those children and teachers. God held their souls in His hands, suffered with them. And He and the Theotokos are with the parents and husbands, sisters and brothers of the victims, weeping with them, helping them bear the cross they must carry.
Our world has no solution for this. There wasn’t a solution in Rachel’s day, or one in Mary’s, when Herod ordered the slaughter of the innocents. There isn’t one today when Herod’s spiritual sons continue his work. We can give reasons, we can find motives and we can blame everything from culture to parenting techniques to lawlessness and political apathy, but the fact is that this world is fallen, and evil exists in it.
It exists, but it is not triumphant. It hasn’t won. It won’t win, because while the battles still rage, the war is over. The Theotokos knows: it was won on that cross where her son, the child she raised and hugged and delighted in, died and then rose again so that we and all the innocents might live, and have life abundantly.
She was at the foot of one cross, and she is standing with the children, their parents and all of us, at the foot of this one, pointing the way to peace, enfolding us in her love and faith.
“There is hope for your future, says the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country.” Jeremiah 31:17.