Category Archives: Berger

CHRISTMAS 2013: Reflection for the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Dec. 28


by Rose Marie Berger

1 John 1:5-2:2 | Matthew 2:13-18

“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.” (Matt 2:18)

Lament of Rachel

Why, the rabbis have asked through history, are the tears of Rachel different from the tears of other mothers? Rachel’s grief is complex and beautiful. Her barrenness, her inability accept Jacob’s love for her even without children, her jealousy of her sister Leah, Rachel’s death in childbirth, her burial by the side of the road–all this creates the harmonies and countermelodies in Rachel’s lament.

The Torah scholar Rashi quotes a midrash saying that Rachel was buried in ba-derekh, “no place”, or the transitional space between one named place and another named place, because it was on the route that her children would take when they were forced into exile. The midrash honors Rachel as the mother of many, even though she gave birth only to Benjamin. It also teaches that there is no place where her children may be forced to go where she will not be with them.

When Herod murders the children in Bethlehem because the Infant King of the Jews was not handed over to him by the magi, Rachel’s wailing rises up. Her cries signal a new exile. And why will she not be consoled? Because justice has not been served. Rachel will scream and mourn and cry out–driving Herod mad–until there is accountability for every dead child.

Rachel weeps still.

“Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother and in his name all oppression shall cease.” (O Holy Night)

This reflection is from Syllables of the Perfect Word: Advent Reflections 2004. Rose Berger is a Catholic peace activist and poet.

REFLECTION: Refugees from the military-industrial empire

Rose Marie Bergerby Rose Marie Berger

Brandon Toy worked for General Dynamics, one of the leading U.S. war corporations. He was an engineering project manager who built Stryker armored fighting vehicles. Before working for GenDyn, Brandon was in the Michigan Army National Guard as a rocket specialist, team leader, and vehicle commander. He deployed as a military policeman in Baghdad in 2004-2005.

Today he resigned – in protest – from the whole shebang. (Read his letter below.)

There are thousands of people who joined the military or war corporations after the attacks on Sept. 11 because they thought it was a way to being meaning to that senseless carnage. Additionally, in the midst of the Great Recession, there was only one industry that was always hiring: military-industrial-information corporations.

I applaud Brandon for “throwing down his gun.” It’s up to the rest of us to find him gainful employment in something that contributes to the “culture of life,” rather than the war machine…

You can read this entire article by clicking here.

Rose Marie Berger is an award-winning religion journalist, author, public speaker, poet, and Catholic who specializes in writing about spirituality and art, social justice, war and peace. You can read her blog here.