Monday, December 28, 2009

The Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

(I John 1:5-2:2; Matthew 2:13-18)

In Europe you might find your car’s tires flat today. Or perhaps there will be three unordered pizzas delivered to your door. The Feast of the Holy Innocents is Europe’s equivalent to America’s “April Fools Day.” It is prime time to play practical jokes on good-natured people.

We may be shocked by the European frivolity on a day that remembers the slaughter of children. But perhaps Holy Innocents Day jokesters just take to heart the belief that the infants have gone to God. “So why not rejoice?” they might ask. Somehow, however, that is just too casual an attitude for many of us. It does not recoil at the grotesque injustice of the blood of children. It also begs the question: why live at all?

We all may be able to recite the answer to that question. We live to know, love, and serve God in this world and to be happy with him in the next. If this is so, the tragedy of children dying is, in part, the irreversible condition of their minds being wasted. Dead children cannot come to know God very well. Yes, they should receive the beatific vision in heaven. Now there might be something marvelous about seeing God through children’s eyes. But just as the art connoisseur will appreciate aspects of a Rubens painting that completely escape the uncultured so growing in wisdom should make us more enthralled at God’s glory. It is good to grow old then if we accordingly grow in wisdom. Conversely, it is a tragedy when one dies young.