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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Today is the feast of Holy Innocents

The Holy Innocents (from aug.edu)What would drive a king to order the slaughter of all male toddlers two years and under across a number of districts? What would drive his soldiers to carry out the deed amidst the objections and wailing of the mothers and fathers who are unable to stop the massacre? What did the bystanders do? What was going through their minds?
   And then one would ask: was God also a bystander? How could he let this happen? This is a tough one, but the answer can be as simple as this: it is his will that Herod, those soldiers, the parents of the victims and the other witnesses should have the freedom to act as they choose. They were, after all, made in his image and likeness, and so they had the power of their intellect as well as conscience, enough to know that murder was wrong. For God to deny Herod and the soldiers free will is to obliterate them as human beings. And since all human beings are capable of wrongdoing at various points in their lives, then the implications are not so limited as one might think.
    The first reading from St. John's first letter tells us that we all sin from time to time. He also tells us that in God there is no darkness. How then do we achieve communion with him if there is darkness in us each time we sin? He will not obliterate us, but he will forgive our sins. He provided the sacrifice in his mercy and love: Jesus Christ, the lamb of God. Through him, our sins can be forgiven if we acknowledge them. Even Herod could have been forgiven. As for the holy innocents, they are not abandoned to their deaths, for there is eternal life in heaven, and these innocents cannot have committed sin at that age.
    But today, a slaughter of innocent continues, as this reflection points out. What would drive fathers and mothers to abort their own child, or allow that of their grandchild, nephew, or niece? What would drive legislators to advocate for more abortions, locally and internationally, to the tune of over 40 million annually across the world? What would drive a doctor, sworn to provide healing and to do no harm, to perform the abortion despite knowing that the child is viable, or the very simple fact that even the embryo at day one is its own distinct being? What did bystanders do? What was going through their minds at what was occurring or about to occur?
    Today is the feast of Holy Innocents. Let us pray for an end to the slaughter, not by legislation, not by obliterating our free will, but primarily the conversion of our hearts, through Jesus Christ, our sacrifice and advocate.

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