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Even 2,000 years later, no words can explain tragedy


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Sometimes there are no words.

Even eight days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting where a 20-year-old man fatally shot 20 children and six adults.

No words.

This barely six weeks after an explosion in the Richmond Hills subdivision killed Jennifer and Dion Longworth, destroyed 30 homes and displaced nearly 200 people, where police investigators continue to investigate this as a possible homicide.

No words.

It’s been 11 years, three months and 11 days since 2,753 people were killed in New York, 184 were killed at the Pentagon, and 40 people were killed on Flight 93 in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

No words.

Even when there are no words, many are written. It’s human nature to try and make sense out of something. Or at least try to fix it so it can’t happen again. We sometimes use logic to explain murders to help deaden our emotions or detach us from incomprehensible tragedy.

We try to logically find the root of the problem so we can at least prevent a similar tragedy. Just in the past week we’ve all read or heard solutions of shoring up mental illness counseling, banning assault weapons or removing the gun-free school zone act. And hopefully a solution will end or at least curb so much tragedy.

Yet, history continues to echo itself, as if no one is listening. It has been recorded that more than 2,000 years ago King Herod ordered the execution of all the male children in the city of Bethlehem.

Italian renaissance artist Giotto di Bondone painted his “Massacre of Innocents” with Herod’s soldier dragging a baby from its screaming mother — the soldier has his head hunched into his shoulders and a look of shame on his face.

From Matthew 2:

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

“When King Herod heard this he was alarmed, and all Jerusalem with him. After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born.”

“In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod privately summoned the wise men and determined from them when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and look carefully for the child. When you find him, inform me so that I can go and worship him as well.”

After listening to the king they left, and once again the star they saw when it rose led them until it stopped above the place where the child was. When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

After being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back by another route to their own country.

The Escape to Egypt

After they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to look for the child to kill him.” Then he got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and went to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died. In this way what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet was fulfilled: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged. He sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under, according to the time he had learned from the wise men. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud wailing, Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were gone.”

Again — no words.

As we mourn with our neighbors the loss of their loved ones, may we also feel God’s comfort and peace through the birth of Jesus, the child who brought us hope, love and life.

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters.

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