|The Feast of the Holy Innocents
First John 1:5--2:2
Psalms 124:2-5, 7-8
The threat of Christmas looms in todayís Gospel. The threat of Christmas... The words sound awkward. To be sure, the sentiment they express is wholly unpleasant. And yet this threat represents the Gospel news Ė the good news! Ė of today.
We are just days away from the Christmas feast. We recently gathered as Christian believers to celebrate the great event of Christ present in our lives. As our songs announced ďhark!Ē under the clamor of bells pealing in towers above, our Advent-hearts rejoiced in response to a bold reality: God those many years ago came crashing into our world and our lives in a way entirely new. This we call the incarnation: God present in flesh and blood as Jesus the Christ. Really, itís a promise made good, an Old Testament promise of Godís to his people. Those prophets were right! God sent us that savior, a Messiah, our King. We didnít quite expect the circumstances as they unfolded Ė a weary, dejected couple and their tiny baby Ė but God came through on that promise of old.
That promise and its manifestation demonstrates Godís love for us . . . a love which provides an only son sacrificed to redeem our lives and offer a gift of salvation eternal. Itís a love that is radical and reckless. Its abundance engulfed our world that first Christmas morning and continues to do so today. This love, this care for humankind, this gesture which comes without condition is precisely the Christmas threat of todayís Gospel. Itís a threat to affairs corrupt and profane. Itís a threat to relationship immoral and indignant. Godís love incarnate as Jesus the Christ and the subsequent power of such an influence represents the Christmas threat to injustice at every twist and turn. It is this threat which spooked Herod and his reign of domination.
Matthew asks us to remember Herod today and his sad command. The Church asks us to remember those Holy Innocents and martyrs who died in and of the name of Christ. God asks us to remember his love for each and everyone and, moreover, to share with him in such an enterprise. To do so threatens injustice in its ways both blatant and subtle.
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