In the church parking lot after the attack, a mortally wounded man cradled his stomach, crying out to a priest, "Father, pray for me, I will not survive." Many others were taken to the municipal hospital where they sat on concrete floors in their own blood, crying for themselves and for their lost loved ones. What horror during this season when we pray for "peace on earth, goodwill toward men."
|St. Teresa's Church, Madalla, Nigeria Photo: Afolabi Satuandi: Reuters|
As the video in Fr. Reynolds' previous post contemplates, "I wonder as I wander, why Jesus our Savior did come forth to die." The beautiful nativity, the baby in the manger, the angels, the shepherds, all foreshadow the reason for the birth...to die for us "poor, lowly sinners." The rupture of the peace of the season by violence seems out of place. It is certainly a reminder that even in this holiest of seasons, Christians must carry the cross.
This week we aren't given much time to bask in the glow of the tree, the family celebration, the nativity, the carols. The very day after Christmas, Holy Mother Church plunges us into the reality of life as a Christian when we celebrate the death of St. Stephen, the proto martyr of the Church. And then, today, on December 28th we celebrate life and death of the Holy Innocents, those little children aged two and under who were murdered by King Herod, because of Herod's fear of losing his power to a savior and king who would come in quiet humility as a little baby.
In today's Office of Readings, St. Quodvultdeus is quoted:
Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.
You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.
Yet your throne is threatened by the source of grace, so small, yet so great, who is lying in the manger. He is using you, all unaware of it, to work out his own purposes freeing souls from captivity to the devil. He has taken up the sons of the enemy into the ranks of God’s adopted children.
The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself. See the kind of kingdom that is his, coming as he did in order to be this kind of king. See how the deliverer is already working deliverance, the saviour already working salvation.
We pray for those who are lost in these terrible atrocities. But we live with the hope and the joy that comes from knowing we are pilgrims in this world traveling toward our true home in heaven.But you, Herod, do not know this and are disturbed and furious. While you vent your fury against the child, you are already paying him homage, and do not know it.