Newtown CT: we pray for you and we mourn with you.
Like so many of you, I’ve been disturbed about the carnage that took place in the sanctuary of an elementary school in Connecticut. Here’s a few thoughts on what I learned by recalling that the liturgical calendar places the Feast of the Holy Innocents squarely in the midst of our Christmas season, so we do not forget what we have been, and are being saved from.
Of course, may we pray never to be put to the test, but if we are, may we cling to Jesus as we cling to one another.
Here’s the opening of my article:
One night there was inexplicable, explosive joy. The kind of joy that sends its ripple effects not only around the world but the news of which transforms the hearts of generations to come.
The Savior was born. A heavenly host of angels announced his arrival, echoing the message of the prophets of old and the longing of humanity for centuries.
Yet several nights later, there was terror and excruciating heartache… Herod had arranged for a systematic killing of innocent Hebrew boys under the age of two. Only God knows how many little ones were massacred at the royal command, at the whim of a king who would not abide a future rival.
Generations later, we remember the heartaches of those parents whose children were taken from them so violently. For Catholics, in our liturgical calendar, we remember both… our Christmas season exults the Savior’s coming, and solemnizes his human peers that were lost because selfishness considered their lives expendable. The slaughter of the innocents – little ones who were martyred on behalf of the God-man who was in their very midst – are memorialized annually on Dec 28th, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. In their deaths, we recall that even though the Christ was born into their land, his presence was not yet born into the hearts of all those for whom he had come.
It is the same for us today. Unless Jesus is embraced by us we cannot dissuade the sin that is born from the free will of those hell-bent on rejecting the Savior’s way, truth, and life.
We have a hard lesson in that this week.
In this third week of Advent — the one that begins with the call of Gaudate!… to rejoice, for the Lord is near! — it is hard to reconcile the mourning and weeping of a nation in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, with the joys of Advent and the coming of Christmas.
And yet… that very coming of the God who saves… Jesus… is the very heart of the hope of all who mourn with a magnitude of grief that, for most of us, is beyond our ability to fathom.
This week, many Americans came against something from which we need saving.
We cannot face the gruesome depravity that is in our midst. We want to look away. We want to go back to what we knew before what we know now. And for the bravest among us, we want one more chance to go back in time, to turn the tide, to do the one thing that may have stopped this evil from befalling us, and others.
The slaughter of innocents will always have that effect on us.
It is the same for Jesus.
In the fullness of time, it was Jesus who looked down from heaven at our depravity and destitution, our evils and ills, and turned to the Father and said, in effect, “No more. Send me.”
Creche: from the Gohn home
Churches in Newtown, CT