International Ministries

Herod Wreaks Havoc in David's City

December 28, 2011 Journal
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This time, Herod knew exactly where to go to find his target:  a market square in Florence, Italy.  A few miles from Michelangelo’s David, one of Herod’s kind shot four Senegalese street vendors, killing two.  The newspaper “La Repubblica” tells the story (www.repubblica.it):  Ndiaye, whose brother Diop was killed, spoke to reporters while searching for the hospital morgue.  He said, “There were four of us standing side by side with our merchandise laid out on white sheets on the ground…I haven’t figured out yet why he skipped me…”  Ndiaye tried to make sense of the shooting: “But, why?  We have been here 10 years, and we’ve never argued with anyone.  We are good people.”  Ndiaye will have to call Diop’s wife and three children back in Dakar.  Diop sent money home often, receiving letters every now and then and a photo once a year.

Modou’s best friend Lo knelt on bouquets of flowers lying at the place where Modou and Diop were shot.  He explained that he and Modou had come to Italy together hoping to become successful.  Lo was eventually able to get a work permit and a job in a cleaning business.  Modou, on the other hand, never got a work permit and had to sell things on the streets to survive.  Lo laments, “And, it had to be Modou!  He was the one who, when I came to talk to him about my problems—about all the struggles of living here—he would say, ‘Be strong!  We’re going to make it!  You’ll see!  We’ll go back to Senegal someday!’”  Modou died leaving a wife and a daughter whom he had not seen for 11 years, but with whom he talked everyday by telephone. 

Florence’s Herod was better-informed and more proactive than King Herod who, in Matthew’s Gospel, was frightened upon news of the birth of the king of the Jews but too lazy to go nip the problem in the bud himself.  This modern-day Herod was active in a group that is openly racist.  His picture appears in an old newspaper photo of a public demonstration.  Somehow, he was able to get a pistol (not so easy in Western Europe).  He went out to kill a few of the people whom he found so threatening and then killed himself.  “He looked like a good person,” said Ndiaye.  “I thought he was a customer.” 

…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” (Matthew 2:13)  Since the magi from the East did not come back to report to Herod where they had found the Jesus, Herod had to send his soldiers out to do his dirty work.  While Jesus was safe with his immigrant parents in Egypt, all the children under two years old in and around Bethlehem were slaughtered, much like Ndiaye and Modou.  Hate and fear are never mild-mannered.  They arm themselves and attack indiscriminately.  This time, it’s the mothers and the children who are left to wail. 

God, help us be more like the worshiping shepherds and wise men and the humble parents around the manger and less like Herod in his fear and his desire to protect what he feels belongs to him.

Thank you for being our partner in ministry!  May the joy of knowing the Christ Child be yours in the coming year!