Rachel weeping for her children is a grim reminder of the Feast of the Holy Innocents who were children slaughtered by a mad king in a futile effort to preserve the established structures. As I was preparing to read the scriptures for the day, I visited the New York Times site and a series on homeless children caught my attention and made me want to weep for Dasani and all the homeless children victimized by our unjust social structures. Andrea Elliott’s poignant series on Dasani and homeless children sleeping with seven others in a one room shelter infested by mice and littered with mold and torn, soiled mattresses while a bucket serves as a toilet is enough to make one weep (http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/invisible-child/#/?chapt=1).
Move a few miles down the eastern seaboard to the nation’s capital where greedy politicians determined to maintain or widen the wealth gap are cutting food stamps and denying long-term unemployment benefits to millions of Americans while wealthy farmers receive huge subsidies and vacation for a month in Hawaii. The poor and hungry will have to pass a urine test to get food but the farmer is off to la-la land without any test required (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/opinion/egan-good-poor-bad-poor.html?_r=0).
Unjust social and economic structures, just like Herod, are causing untold human grief, misery and untimely death. Pope Francis speaks about these unjust structures and Rush Limbaugh quickly slaps a Marxist label on him. We all know that Marxists and socialists do not know anything about the human condition; therefore, we do not have to listen to them even when they speak Gospel truth!
In his series on The Challenge of Jesus, John Dominic Crossan, says that the early Christians were awaiting someone to come and clean up the messes in the world. Christmas 2013 has come and gone and we still have so many serious messes to clean up. We can stand around chanting “Come, O come, Emmanuel” all day long and the messes will continue to get worse. This reminds me of the man praying to God and lamenting the fact that he had not won last week’s MegaMillions lottery. God’s response was blunt and to the point, “Buy a ticket.”
God’s message to us on the Feast of the Holy Innocents is, “Roll up your sleeves and do something about it.” Today’s feast challenges us to consider what each one of us can do in our own small way to help clean up these messes.