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After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:

“I called my son out of Egypt”!

Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled:

‘A voice was heard in Ramah,

sobbing and loudly lamenting:

it was Rachel weeping for her children,

refusing to be comforted because they were no more’.

One word comes to mind on reading this scripture passage, and that word is “suffering”! And not just the suffering of God’s people, but also the suffering of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – The Holy Family; - who at the same time the children were slaughtered; - and immediately after the birth of Jesus; - had to flee for their own safety?

Why? Why is it that everywhere we look in Christianity we see suffering, and Christ even promotes it as “necessary”?

The answer of course is well known, and clear to anyone who professes to be a Christian, and that answer can also be given in one word: - “Reparation”!

In fact this is the primary reason for Christ’s birth; - to make reparation to God the Father for our sins; - and so it is only right, if God the Father wanted his only Son to suffer and make reparation for sin, that Christ’s followers should also have to experience suffering?

Sadly though, because we are sinners, we have this inbuilt desire not only to avoid suffering, but also to have our own desires satisfied, with many devoting their entire lives to this quest!

This is why it is so necessary we learn from Christ and ponder his life, as he not only taught us the need for suffering, but he has walked ahead of us and embraced his own suffering and Cross; - “Out of Love for God; - and; - Out of Love for Sinners”!

We have to get our heads around this truth if we want to live the Christian life and be a follower of Christ! How wrong it would be for Christ, the Son of God, to embrace suffering and The Cross, in reparation for our sins, while we seek the satisfaction of our own desires?

And how “just” and “right” it is that we should endure suffering in reparation for sin? Not only because Christ did so, but even more importantly, because we have sinned? So, we need to stop complaining (as we do?) when “God’s Ways” are not in accord with “Our Ways”!

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