Saturday, December 28, 2013

Let's remain grounded in the Mystery of the Incarnation

Today's Feast of the Holy Innocents is not ironic, odd, or strange in the least. According to the Gospel of St. Matthew, it is part of the Christmas story, the Infancy Narrative. It also reminds us that, to borrow a phrase, the wood of the manger becomes the wood of the Cross.

The only way that our commemoration and, yes, celebration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents can be seen as in any way ironic, contradictory, or inconsistent with this holy season is when Christmas, which for most people, Catholics included, is already over and done for another year, is viewed through the lens of sentimentality, which amounts to a denial of reality and the insistence on a Crossless pseudo-Christianity.

As Fr. Carrón noted in a pre-Christmas letter-to-the-editor of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, reality provokes us. Due to this provocation it is important for us, as followers of Jesus Christ, to discern the true from the false.

There are many temptations we daily face. In our time perhaps the most pervasive one is to put ourselves first, to seek our own ends by whatever means. In short, we are deceived into wanting our best life now. So let's remain grounded in the Mystery of God becoming man for us and for our salvation. To assist us today we'll turn to the inspired words of the apostle Paul:
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory, and which none of the rulers of this age knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: "What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him," this God has revealed to us through the Spirit (1 Cor 2:7-10)
To wit: as good as my life is, my best life is yet to come, but the way to it is the Via Crucis.

Later in St. Matthew's Gospel, after His first prediction of His own death, which led Him to rebuke Peter for insisting that it simply could not be as the Lord said, Jesus uttered these words: "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matt 16:24-25).

Losing one's life for Christ's sake is, in my view, the best definition of martyrdom.

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