The day after Christmas we get the martyrdom of Stephen and today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents.
Today’s feast reminds us of the world into which Jesus was born – a world of suffering and sin – a world desperately in need of the peace Jesus offers. Jesus’ world is our world. A world in which innocent young children shot to death in their school. A world in which civilians are killed in drone attacks. A world in which the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. The examples of suffering are endless. In the words of Henri Nouwen:
We live in a world groaning under its losses: the merciless wars destroying people and their countries, the hunger and starvation decimating whole populations, crime and violence holding millions of men, women and children in fear. Cancer and AIDS, cholera, malaria, and many other diseases devastating the bodies of countless people;…it’s the story of everyday life filing the newspapers and television screens. It is a world of endless losses.
We live in a world that desperately needs Christ. And today the Christ child comes, not wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger, but through us. Meister Eckhart wrote
What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son is I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.
Even now – so many years after the birth, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus – the question remains for each of us: Will you help give birth to Christ in your time and culture? Will you infuse the world with Christ’s presence? We don’t answer those questions merely by singing beautiful carols around the creche. The feast we celebrate today reminds us that the world needs more from us.