Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, historically questionable like all the events surrounding the first Christmas, including, notably, the Roman census which never happened, was followed by another “event”, the tragedy of which will always put a damper on Christmas cheer. King Herod, who in fact had died four years before the date given the birth of Christ, decided to eliminate the competition by nipping it, we might say, in the bud, by slaughtering all the Jewish male infants born around the time of the birth of the future King of the Jews.
Christmas, as of 2012, will forever, at least in Newtown, Connecticut, be associated with the massacre of twenty elementary school-kids and half a dozen officials and teachers at the Sandy Hook school. Three of my five grandchildren, aged 5, 7 and 9, are the same ages as the victims of this latest result of absurd, anachronistic legislation and Rednecks’ ferocious dedication to the right to buy and bear arms.
A previous Reflection (“Kidding Themselves…and Others”, pp. 133-134) predicted the inevitable reoccurrence of such senseless, avoidable tragedies, and the equally inevitable refuge the victims’ families and the rest of us are expected to find in prayer to a God who apparently continues to allow such horrors to happen.
What if people didn’t believe in God ? What would they do to find solace – no one will ever find sense – in bearing the burden of the slaughter of even one of their innocents ? Even the religiously tepid or indifferent cannot resist the need in such circumstances to turn to a God who will remain as invisible, silent and non-existent as He ever was. And atheists will bow their heads and let their tears flow along with the non-atheists’. We can only hope that in the future I will not have occasion to reflect, once again, on new tragedies like Newtown’s which God will do nothing to prevent but which American voters can.