A Massacre of Innocents: A meditation for Advent

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
    weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
    she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

The Gospel According to Matthew, chapter 2 (ESV)


[A story from World War II in Romania, as written by Ferenc Visky in The Foolishness of God]

Once during the war, while visiting a member of his congregation in the neighborhood, Richard [Wurmbrand] was introduced to one of [Romanian dictator] Marshall Antonescu’s high-ranking officers. Not knowing that the minister was Jewish, the officer began to boast about the methods they had used to butcher Jews, how they had killed the children, the elderly, how they had hurled them from bridges. A town in northern Moldova had a conspicuous place in the stories, not just for the officer but, as it turned out, for Richard as well. Richard kept interrupting the narrative with precise questions and soon identified his wife’s family. Apparently, Binci’s relatives had been victims of the pogrom recounted by the officer.

Richard kept silent about the coincidence and did his best to entertain his new acquaintance by playing classics on the piano and engaging in amusing conversation. The officer was fascinated by the minister’s learning and excellent piano-playing and Richard invited him to his house to continue. The officer was delighted to accept the invitation. Once home, Richard took his place at the piano. He began to play his guest’s favorite piece, but then suddenly leapt to his feet and cried at the officer, “You are a murderer! You killed my wife’s family!”

Stammering and stuttering, the officer asked for forgiveness, then fell to the floor as though all his strength had deserted him. Richard went into the children’s room, brought his sons out from their beds, and placed them in the officer’s arms. “You killed children just like these.”

“Now,” continued Richard, “we will go into my wife’s room. I’ll wake her and tell her, ‘Look, here is the man who murdered your parents and brothers and sisters.’ My wife, when she realizes who you are, will embrace you and say, ‘Blessed be God that I can forgive the murderer of my parents and brothers and sisters.’”