Feast of the Holy Innocents
1 John 1:5-2.2
Today is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. Just a few days ago, our readings were filled with joy and wonder! The Christ Child was born. But now so soon after, we hear this horrendous account of the killing of babies. Herod looking to destroy Jesus sends his soldiers out to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem. How can God allow this to happen?
Why does God allow bad things to happen? "Why, God, why?" That’s a question that most of us have asked at some time in our lives. Some people even denounce the existence of God with the argument, "If your God is good, why doesn’t he do something about all this suffering?"
But they just don’t get it! The Gospel message is not that God will wipe out all suffering. The message of scripture is rather that God will be with us in our suffering. God so wants us to hear this message, He even sends His Son to become human, to embrace humanity, to walk with us in all ways.
Jesus throughout His life delivers this message. Born in a stable, living a simple life, risking all to preach about the Father and finally suffering a humiliating, painful passion and death-this is the Jesus we see in the Gospel. The joy of being Christian does not mean that we can expect to pray for a miracle and if we’re good all suffering will be removed from our lives. Christian joy is rather that we do not face that suffering alone. As Christians, we know that Christ is one with us – in our joys and in our sufferings.
"My kingdom is not of this world," Christ tells us. That’s why the the Resurrection and Ascension are needed to complete the Gospel message. Christ came to be one with us in this life and to prepare the way for us in the heavenly kingdom. This is the promise. This is the message. This is why we are joy-filled to be Christian and no amount of suffering will remove that joy!
Mary Lou Butler ([email protected])is a former staff member and is now a member of the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center Board, Sierra Madre, California.