THE DEATH OF INNOCENTS IN THE WARS OF THIS WORLD
(Wednesday, December 13)
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Mt 2:1-3)
Herod and all those “with him” felt so troubled at the news of Christ’s birth, that eventually this feeling of theirs, this feeling “troubled,” led to the massacre of the babies in Bethlehem. Why were they troubled? Because they feared that the status quo, the whole system in which Herod was a sort of king, would be disrupted by the newly-born “King of the Jews.” They are willing to massacre the babies of their own people, in order to preserve their own “system.”
On the other side of this battle, God seems to retreat, but is not inactive. He preserves the lives of the Magi, along with the lives of the King of the Jews and His family. Why are they preserved, while God allows the unthinkable suffering that was to be unleashed on the families in Bethlehem? The answer is the one Christ gives to His disciples, when they ask about the reason for the suffering of the man born blind: “that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (Jn 9:2).
The works of God are being made manifest, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, in a world that God put into motion, including the motion of our human free will, which is a dangerous thing. “We” are entrusted with freely interacting, reproducing and governing, organizing our own physical and spiritual lives, as well as those of our broader institutions. And we make a mess of this, time and again, insofar as we choose not to go with the flow of God’s Self-offering will for us, which is essentially that we have life and life abundantly. *We* erect idols and ideologies in place of God; idols that demand sacrifices we shouldn’t be making, because they ultimately seek our death and are not interested in our life. This is why we see Herod mindlessly sacrificing the babies of Bethlehem; and we see his son, Herod Antipas, sacrificing John the Baptist. The Herods valued their own little idols more than the human lives for which they were responsible, as political leaders.
Today, in the sort of “clash of civilizations” we are observing, it is again ignited by the Herods of this world and their corrupt system(s), who value the “system” itself above the lives of their own people, and are willing to sacrifice them as cannon fodder or as human shields, to perpetuate it. On the other side of this clash, we have the system(s) that value the lives of their own people above all else, as their main resource. Strangely, many of us blame the latter group for “provoking” the Herods, even while we don’t blame the King of the Jews or John the Baptist for doing so. Lord, Sun of Righteousness, shine the light of Your knowledge on our darkness, and grant us Your kind of victory over those who seek to perpetuate that darkness. Amen!