Feast of the Holy Innocents (transferred)[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 2, 26 (morning) // 19, 126 (evening)
It’s very difficult not to get all saccharine about children at Christmas time. This was the first year that my two-year-old “got” Christmas: Now he can correctly identify both Santa Claus and the baby Jesus, he can press a cookie cutter firmly into cookie dough, and he begs to sing “Jingle Bells” in the car. As clichéd as it sounds, it really has been a joy to see my son’s face full of wonder and delight this season, opening gifts and gasping at thousands of tiny lights on a dark night.
In case we get too sentimental about children at Christmastime, today we commemorate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This day asks us to recognize children as beings who are deeply connected to God . . . and who are at great risk in this tyrannical world.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus tells his disciples that “unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus also gives the sharpest possible warnings to anyone who obstructs a child’s faith: “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Then, Jesus gives us an extraordinary description of children and their connection to God. He says, “in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.” Imagine each child linked to a heavenly being whose gaze is turned toward God at all times.
There’s no doubt that children are adorable at Christmas, whether they’re dressed up as shepherds and angels for a Christmas pageant, or wearing red-and-green pajamas on Christmas morning. But if we look even deeper, perhaps we can see their angelic connection to God, and let it inspire us to become worthy of the kingdom by becoming like them, and to clear their way of violence and injustice as they prepare to inherit the kingdom after us.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.