Friday, December 28, 2012

Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

“Then Herod . . . was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region.” – Mt. 2:16

It can be tempting to romanticize the season with the cheer and festivities of the holidays. Hot chocolate and ribbons can make us feel so warm and fuzzy. Yet, there’s more. The senseless killing of 20 children and 7 adults in Connecticut two weeks ago is a shocking reminder of the reality of Christmas. Today’s Gospel presents a sobering reminder of the reality of Jesus’ entering into the world.

Christmas gives the opportunity to celebrate: Jesus Himself comes to be with us and bring about fuller life. Of course, with any new, significant shift that challenges the current norms, there’s also going to be a reaction. King Herod was no exception to this. He enjoyed dominance over his kingdom and was now threatened with its fall. His intense need for control and its subsequent fear drove him to the extreme of having a mass number of infants murdered.

After getting past the horror of Herod’s actions, I realize I'm actually not that different sometimes. That is, when a door is opened for a new way of looking at or going about life, there is a reaction and deep resistance - external, internal, or both. Why? Growth is better, but not necessarily easier. I might not like my old ways, but they require less effort than moving into something new and unknown. I want to be more present to God, but sometimes find myself allowing activities like Facebook and projects to become hindrances rather than helps. It’s often very subtle. Moreover, these shifts have sometimes meant uncovering and facing some seriously deep fears.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t stop there. He knows and still chooses to come in the midst of it all. The Herod within me is encouraged then to shift from reacting out of fear to responding in love and trust. I become more free, more hopeful. If I try to cooperate more with God's movement in my life, and be real to the times when I still struggle (sometimes quite significantly), there’s a deep confidence that the effect - in time and with God's grace - can be nothing less than profoundly transformative.

adapted from a reflection by Quyen Ngo

For more reflection, see:

1.    Archbishop Diarmuid Marti’s thoughtful Midnight Mass Homily that Christmas is about humility and simplicity.

2. The statement from three US Bishops calling all Americans especially legislators, to address national policies that will strengthen regulations of firearms and improve access to health care for those with mental health needs. 

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