Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

First Sunday After Christmas

Sermon / Homily on Matthew 2:13-23

"Dreams and the Dreaming"

by Rev. Corey F. O’Brien

Scripture: Matthew 2:13-23

Mary, Mary, wake-up. What's wrong Joseph? Mary hurry, dress the baby and yourself we need to leave right away. Joseph what is it? It's the middle of the night Joseph. Joseph you are soaking wet. I had a dream Mary. I've had another one of those dreams. Oh Mary, these dreams there been so many of them. Your dreams and mine. What can it all mean? I must protect the child. I must protect the child. Calm down Joseph and tell me what you dreamt. I only know that we must go from this place Mary, for an angel of the lord came to me in my dream and told me to get up and take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. There was a sense of urgency in the dream. We must go now, right away. The angel told me that Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him. Hurry Mary we must go. Oh, Joseph, Egypt is such a far place to go to. Life is so strange. Do you remember in our teachings how our people were let out of Egypt by Moses, and now we must go back. But Mary it's the only place the child will be safe, because it lies outside of Herod's jurisdiction. I know I'm ready Joseph. Mary, is the baby frightened? The baby is fine Joseph. Let us go quietly, so no one will hear us.

Those wise men! They think they can trick me. Wise men, indeed, oh that title, wise man. Why they're nothing more than astrologers, magicians or sorcerers. They had the nerve to come here asking, “where is the child who has been born King of the Jews?” They've got their nerve. I'm the king of the Jews. And all you scribes of the people and chief priests, you come to me with this prophecy nonsense. “It was written by the prophets that from Bethlehem shall come a ruler to shepherd the people.” Pathetic! I’m the ruler of Israel; I am Herod the king of the Jews. I won’t have it. No one can claim my title. You, my advisors, you're so stupid you cannot even tell me when the time that this so-called child, who is to be king of the Jews, was to be born. Your stupidity forced my hand so that I had to summon these so-called wise men to come and tell me the time that the child would be born. That's how I got mixed up with them, the traders. Yes, I told them to go to Bethlehem and search for that child. I told them I would go pay homage to the child. The fool's, they believed me. Oh yes, they set off all right, but something happened along the way, they did not come back to me. They left for their own country by another road. Oh you fool, why did you not have them followed? Must I do everything myself. Well, I'll get them. And you, my advisors, you weak insignificant fools! Why do I even bother to listen to you? Let you not forget you're here because of my power. I'm the one in control. You would be nothing without me. It is my power that set up this easy life for you. I control what the people say and what is shouted from the streets. You forget that I am the most admired man in the country.

King of the Jews, King of the Jews. How dare they? I will stop this now. I know what I'm going to do. Get the soldiers ready right away. Tell them I order them to go out searching in and around Bethlehem and kill all the children who are two years old or under. Use the date that the wise men gave you since your incompetent spies couldn’t provide me with the information that I needed. Forgive me for speaking, but Herod, you will be killing your own people. My people! Yes, they're the ones always whining and waiting for someone to come and save them because they have nothing. But King Herod, the law of the prophets forbids this. Oh please, I am the law. Look at it this way, I am blessed. I am Herod, king of the Jews. I have everything. I am rich and powerful. People worship me; they believe what I tell them to believe. I've built an empire. And don't forget how I did it. I insinuated myself with Rome, of course against your advice, because I know that I am right, and I conquered my own people and why? Because they were too stupid to see that if the Romans used us we could use them. Oh yes, I know the people resent that I collude with Rome. But look at the facts, my architectural and cultural achievements are great. I've renovated and enlarged the Jerusalem Temple into a building of splendid proportions. And this is only one of my great achievements. Trust me, my friends. People only see what is in front of them. When people remember me, they will remember Herod the great, the King of the Jews, whose great empire will stand forever as a monument to my greatness. No one will remember this small incident about an insignificant child and the rest of these children. Look around you. You can see that I'm blessed, for I have all this world can offer.

Joseph, yes, Mary, as we traveled to Egypt it was said along the road by travelers that Herod was killing all the children in around Bethlehem that were under two years old. I know Mary. I heard it too. Oh Joseph what can it mean? Why were we spared? Joseph do you think that there will be people that will say that God saved us, but not the other children. Perhaps Mary, people will misremember it in that way, but, what they don't realize is that God did not do this to those innocent children. It was man who did this. Mary, this is not new. Do you remember from our teachings, how Pharaoh killed all the young boys when Moses was born. It's really ironic Mary, Moses led our people out of Egypt, and here we are returning to Egypt. Herod fears the birth of the child because he is no longer Herod, king of the Jews. He is only Herod, a frightened man threatened by a child. It’s just like Pharaoh. Mary, all of this, it’s about something so much bigger than us. Perhaps others were warned too but they did not hear. But remember Mary that it is man that creates the sorrows of our world not God.

Mary, do you remember how Harod got Rome's military backing and established himself as king? This is a man who slaughtered his own people to gain power. Mary, there will always be people like Herod. People who will do anything to gain power. Greedy People, people who will even consider themselves blessed because they have gained power at the expense of others. And yet, this man fears a tiny child. What lack of faith this man must have. Unfortunately Mary it seems that these types of people will always be with us. But Joseph what about the soldiers? How could they do it, kill innocent children, they must have children of their own. Because they follow, they do not question and they are not permitted to question. They do not even see what they do. That is the way it is with a mob. There are many in this world that follow what they see in front of them and cannot look deep inside themselves. Perhaps if they looked, they could not live with themselves. Mary, we are only making ourselves sad with all of this. We must think of the child and make sure he remains safe. Come Mary we have many lengths to travel.

Mary, Mary wake up. It's happened again, I've had another one of those dreams. But it's good Mary, it's good. We are to get up and go to the land of Israel for Herod is dead. We should be safe now and we can go home Mary. Get ready for the journey and prepare the child. Oh Joseph it's so good to be traveling back to the land of our people. Yes, Mary, but Mary, have you heard the news along the road? Although Herod is dead, his son Archelaus is ruling over Judea. Mary, I don't think we can take the chance of going there. Although Herod is gone, his son will surely remember. Sons remember the reigns of their fathers and seek revenge for them at any cost. Mary I’m so tired. Let's stop for the night Mary it has been a long day. We'll talk about it tomorrow.

Mary we’ve been traveling for several days now and I need to tell you that I had a dream, yes another one of those dreams. The dream confirmed my fears about Archelaus; we can't go to Judea we must go to the district of Galilee. Oh Joseph, Galilee. But we don't know anyone there and this place you say we are going to, Joseph Nazareth is nothing; it is just a small village at the end of nowhere. It is so far from where we wanted to be. Mary, please don’t be so sad. Remember we will be safe there. Forgive me Joseph; of course, we will go to Galilee.

You know Joseph I feel we are on such a journey. Ever since we knew about the child it has all been so extraordinary. I can't help but wonder what it all means. I know Mary, I feel the same way. I wonder about it and I pray about it. What I believe Mary is that we need to raise this child to follow in the ways of our Lord. I will teach him to be a carpenter, it is good trade Mary. We will live quiet lives and raise the child to be a good man. Look, Mary, in the distance, it's Nazareth. This will be our home Mary. God is with us. Yes Joseph, God is with us. Amen

See Also:

Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for the 1st Sunday after Christmas

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