Back to Top

Babies and Injustice: A story of Christmas

Although the story of Herod killing all the boy babies under two in Bethlehem is a post Christmas story, it is associated with it. The joy of birth comes after the immediate pain of childbirth. Joy mixed with grief is a clear juxtaposition in seminal life experiences. Jesus was born into this world as a baby in order to lay down his life as an adult in a grievous crucifixion. The joy and hope of new life and the pain and grief of a knowing mother was Mary’s experience.

When Mary visited Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, she sang, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble (Luke 1:52 NIV).“ Little did she know that bringing down the rulers from their thrones would require her son to be lifted up on the cross to die for them. Jesus, the humble, would eventually be lifted up from death and the grave to the right hand of God. Mary lived with great hope and the awful price for that hope. Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19 NIV).” She needed to do this to keep hope alive when it looked like it died.

Mothers have died with their babies and also have cried out in unrequited grief

My mother was told by the doctors after my older brother was born that she could have no more children. She told me she prayed and asked for another son, that he would serve Jesus and help his people and I was born. She held that hope for 20 years while I wandered in the wilderness and at one time I said ‘no’ to her face concerning her hope for me. But then one day I began serving Jesus and helping our people.

Being a leader means you become a target. My mother saw all the struggles I faced as a follower of Jesus, an Indigenous leader, and as a father looking after my family. My mother came to me twice and apologized for praying as she did for me and that as far as she was concerned I was released from the obligations of her prayer. Twice I told her I would not have my life in any other way.

This Fall and Advent in Palestine-Israel babies have died as modern day kings rage. Mothers have died with their babies and also have cried out in unrequited grief as in the days of Jesus:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,

    weeping and great mourning,

Rachel weeping for her children

    and refusing to be comforted,

    because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:18 NIV)

There is no pain like that of a mother of a dead baby killed by the machinations of men. Jesus was born into that world and today that world continues in its cruelty. It is this ugly reality that highlights the faith of a mother’s hope.

Mary knew that God promised her ultimate triumph. It was a long journey there though. The love that begins a new life has a long struggle and then an intensely painful delivery of that life. 

Christmas is a time of sweet sorrow for me. Sweet memories, lovely dinners, gift giving, and special visits together with the memories of late parents, friends, loves and dreams. I guess that is why Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley has been a favourite Christmas song of mine. My pain is certainly not comparable to a mother’s pain but it softens my heart. Perhaps I can lessen the cruelty of men in this world.

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.