|The Holy Innocents, martyrs
1 John 1:5--2:2
Psalms 124:2-5, 7-8
"O martyrs, young and fresh as flowers,
Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents. It is a first century feast that has been kept in the West from the 4th century. The day honors those that are considered to be martyrs because they not only died for Christ but instead of Christ. Herod murdered male children around 2 years old in hopes of killing the Christ child. In this feast the Church also honors all who die in a state of innocence and consoles parents of dead children with the conviction that these also will share the glory of the infant companions of Jesus.
As a parent who has lost a child, itís consoling to know that the Church also recognizes children from all times to be present with these infant martyrs. Life is as much a mystery as Godís ways are unexplainable. Who can explain to parents why their baby suddenly died or why others are plagued with disease or severe handicaps from birth? But itís when innocent children are slaughtered, as the Gospel portrays, that the disorder and sin in the world become painfully present. The saddest part of todayís feast is that Herodís slaughter was not an isolated case. Throughout history in cultures around the globe children have been sacrificed, slaughtered, abused, starved, and destroyed. These innocent and weak children are left to the demise of more powerful and controlling adults that are walking in darkness. The darkness seems overwhelming at times.
Todayís reading from 1 John gives me hope for a world that seems surrounded by darkness. Hope because there is light in the world that brightens the darkness. For all the evil acts that blacken the world around us there is Godís light shining through people who stand for justice, truth and love. These are regular people like you and me, coming from all faiths and cultures who brighten the dark places of the world. We brighten the world because we stand-up against injustices, pursue Godís truth, and reflect the love that God has for each one of us. We are not saints, but we are people who care, we have been touched by Godís love and want to share the gift. By sharing Godís love we are lighting up the world. As we celebrate the Christmas season and the birth of God among us, we can be confident that the light we bring to the world is making a difference. Even those small daily acts of love, truth, and justice shared with family, friends, and strangers are sending sparks of light into the world. We canít undo the horrors of yesterday, but we can bring light in the world today. The world needs us to bring Godís love, hope and light into every situation we encounter.