taking the words of Jesus seriously

A reading from the gospel according to Matthew.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him.

13 An angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to a nearby country. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” 14 Herod grew worried at the threat this child could pose to his rule, and so he sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger. 15 Joseph got up and, during the night, took Jesus and Mary and fled to a nearby land that was known to many as a place of refuge for persecuted people.

16  When they arrived at the country’s border, soldiers stopped them. “You cannot enter. Go back home,” they said. 17 Joseph plead, “Please you must grant us entry. We are not safe where we came from. Our lives are in danger. We are simply seeking safety. We’ve heard this is a place of great opportunity, a land of the free, that welcomes the huddled masses fleeing persecution.” 19 But the soldiers responded, “You are right that this country has been known for this. Long have we welcomed the tired, the poor, and all those yearning to breathe free. But our supreme leader has issued a new edict closing our borders and denying entry to all those seeking refuge here. Your family may be no threat now, but who knows what your child may grow up to be. Our country must come first.”

20 Joseph and Mary, distraught and despairing, took the child Jesus and returned to Judea, hoping to avoid Herod’s persecution. 21 They had not been back long before Herod’s men found them and brought them to the palace, where Herod imprisoned Joseph, forced Mary into his harem, and killed Jesus.

Here ends the gospel.

About The Author


Michael T. McRay (MPhil, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, Trinity College Dublin | at Belfast) is a writer, educator, speaker, and advocate. He is the author of "Where the River Bends: Considering Forgiveness in the Lives of Prisoners," with a foreword by Desmond M. Tutu, and "Letters from 'Apartheid Street': A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine," with a foreword by Lee C. Camp. He adjunct lectures at Lipscomb University, serves as the cofounder of No Exceptions Prison Collective, and is the founder/organizer/cohost of Tenx9 Nashville Storytelling. He is currently working on this third book, narrating and analyzing the 50 interviews he conducted in Fall 2015 in Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa on stories and perspectives of reconciliation and justice.

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