‘Rachel weeping for her children’ Jeremiah 31:15,
Saint John Chrysostom
4.“Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, (Jeremiah 31:15) saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Matthew 2:17-18 .
Thus having filled the hearer with horror by relating these things: the slaughter so violent and unjust, so extremely cruel and lawless; he comforts him again, by saying, Not from God’s wanting power to prevent it did all this take place, nor from any ignorance of His, but when He both knew it, and foretold it, and that loudly by His prophet. Be not troubled then, neither despond, looking unto His unspeakable providence, which one may most clearly see, alike by what He works, and by what He permits. And this He intimated in another place also, when discoursing to His disciples. I mean where, having forewarned them of the judgment seats, and executions, and of the wars of the world, and of the battle that knows no truce, to uphold their spirit and to comfort them He says, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father which is in Heaven. Matthew 10:29 These things He said, signifying that nothing is done without His knowledge, but while He knows all, yet not in all does He act. Be not then troubled, He says, neither be disturbed. For if He know what ye suffer, and has power to hinder it, it is quite clear that it is in His providence and care for you that He does not hinder it. And this we ought to bear in mind in our own temptations also, and great will be the consolation we shall thence receive.
But what, it may be said, has Rachel to do with Bethlehem? For it says, “Rachel weeping for her children.” And what has Rama to do with Rachel? Rachel was the mother of Benjamin, and on his death, they buried her in the horse-course that was near this place. The tomb then being near, and the portion pertaining unto Benjamin her infant (for Rama was of the tribe of Benjamin), from the head of the tribe first, and next from the place of her sepulture, He naturally denominates her young children who were massacred. Then to show that the wound that befell her was incurable and cruel, He says, “she would not be comforted because they are not.”
Hence again we are taught this, which I mentioned before, never to be confounded when what is happening is contrary to the promise of God. Behold, for instance, when He had come for the salvation of the people, or rather for the salvation of the world, of what kind were His beginnings. His mother, first, in flight; His birth-place is involved in irremediable calamities, and a murder is perpetrated of all murders the bitterest, and there is lamentation and great mourning, and wailings everywhere. But be not troubled; for He is wont ever to accomplish His own dispensations by their contraries, affording us from thence a very great demonstration of His power.
Thus did He lead on His own disciples also, and prepared them to do all their duty, bringing about things by their contraries, that the marvel might be greater. They, at any rate, being scourged and persecuted, and suffering terrors without end, did in this way get the better of them that were beating and persecuting them.
Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 9 on Matthew- Matt. II. 16 .
Source. Translated by George Prevost and revised by M.B. Riddle. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 10. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight.
Idiomel of the Royal Hours, Ninth Hour,Tone. 7
Herod was struck with amazement when he saw the piety of the Magi, and overcome by wrath he inquired diligently the interval of time. Mothers were left childless and the unripe age of their babes was bitterly harvested. Breasts grew dry and the channels of milk were stopped. Great was the calamity! And so let us, the faithful, devoutly assembled worship Christ’s Nativity.