|A Voice Was Heard In Rama, Rachel Weeping For Her Children|
This is an Icon of “Rachel Weeping For Her Children.” It refers specifically to the slaughter of the innocents. That was the murder of thousands of young children (males under the age of two) who lived in and around Bethlehem just after the birth of Christ. King Herod had heard about the birth of Christ from the Wise Men from the east, and in an attempt to kill Jesus, kills all of the male children in the area.
Generally, however, this icon refers to all of the people, children or adults, who are killed and abused through the fear and selfishness of the powerful. This includes both victims of abortion and victims of “collateral damage” as powerful nations seek to kill those they perceive as threats. It includes those who suffer from economic oppression and those who die or kill themselves because they have been starved of love and care. Rachel weeps for them all. Rachel, here, is a reference to the women of Israel, specifically, but generally to the whole Church. The whole church weeps for the innocent ones who are so easily trampled on and counted as nothing by the powerful.
And like most revelations of the truth, there is a profound irony here. In some ways we all participate in and experience life as powerful oppressors, as weeping mothers, and as murdered and abused innocents. We are all victims, and we are all guilty, thus we all weep.
And yet, weeping is not the end. Every tear is carried to heaven by our angel; ever tear is a prayer. Those who have fallen asleep are now safe in God’s hands. We are the ones who mourn. We mourn because of our sins, the sins of the whole world; but we do not mourn (as St. Paul says) “as the gentiles do, who have no hope.” We mourn in the hope of the resurrection. We mourn in the hope that the Holy Spirit will guide us into repentance. We mourn in the hope that God will soften the hearts even of the powerful, even of us, the blind and foolish ones. Tears are a gift from God to those who begin to see.