Reflections on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.
Today is the Feast of The Holy Innocents. It is the day when those that use the liturgical calendar, remember the innocent children who were slain by King Herod in his urge to kill the child Jesus, whose birth he had been made aware of by the visiting Magi.
These Innocents have come to represent the voiceless, the feeble, the baby, the truly helpless who through no fault of their own, become the victims of a world that treats people as collateral damage. They are the statistical sacrifice that enables the power-hungry to maintain their grip on their empires. The victims of ideological maniacs, whose life is fixated with the maintenance of power at any cost and the perpetuation of fake news to justify selfish ambition.
Everyday is a day when the innocent are slain. As a child dies every six seconds from a preventable disease, I am reminded of a system that allows such moral pollution to corrupt the very fabric of life. I am reminded that here in the UK, child poverty (one in three children are growing up in poverty) is on the increase and will continue to exact a heavy toll on the future of our country as our government penalises the poor in the name of financial responsibility and protecting the rich justified, through the spiteful narrative of ‘benefit cheats, illegal immigrants and economic prudence’.
I am reminded that not all anger is wrong, as I feel the heat of hatred for injustice add fuel to the fire of the love I know Jesus has for all humanity and creation. Jesus calls his Church to be the voice of the voiceless, the shield of the innocent and the sword of justice in the fight to preserve the dignity of all life. I am reminded of all the work that the nameless and faceless of our world do to preserve a future for our children and their children. And I hear the silence in heaven of the lost voices, the missing contributions, the suppression of genius and uniqueness, as another child is massacred, is starved or dies of neglect.
The challenge to the Church now in the face of the unfettered favoritism of the rich and powerful by their politician servants and the seemingly unstoppable rise in the populist folk religion of right wing evangelical fundamentalism is ‘What kind of vision do we have as the Body of Christ? What kind of future do we hold out for? What is our vision for Britain and beyond? If we stand aside and allow the political elite to shape the future, there will be no change.
My prayer is this incredible ‘Body of Christ’ will turn it’s back on the world system and create a genuinely alternative community that offers hope, freedom, liberty and meaningful purpose. A hope filled community where it can again be said, ‘There was not a needy person amongst them’.* I am reminded of the self-sacrificing God we serve, born in vulnerable innocence, died an innocent and rose to open the gates of heaven to all those who are innocent.
This is the paradigm of change I must rediscover so I can continue to discover my humanity in Christ. Can I find a fresh courage to stand and fight against the violence of fundamentalism, the distraction of political hubris, and the cancer of self interest? Can I find the strength of God to walk forward in peace and forgiveness with arms wide enough to include all those who I meet along the way?
On this day of remembering the innocent, I pray that I may in some small way rediscover my innocence in a world of great beauty and insane cruelty. Maybe innocence is the way through our apparent generational paradox?
*The Book of Acts. Chapter 4:34a NRSV