Newtown Reflections and Adult Education

by Fr. Chris Hardman

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more." Matthew 2:16-18

It is strange to have such an event as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings to coincide with Herod's "massacre of the innocents." Herod's actions may be more storytelling than history, but anytime the innocent die it changes us. While listening to the news coverage this past week or so, I have found tears rolling down my cheeks seemingly out of nowhere. But, I know whence they came. I know my tears reflect the very tears of God, for God's own heart was broken in this tragedy.

We can only hope that the loss of these "holy innocents" in Connecticut will wake us up to ways of preventing further killing. People do not need assault type rifles. People do need affordable access to mental health care. We have made purchasing assault type rifles perfectly acceptable, and we have stigmatized people who seek mental health care in our society. I think we have that backwards.

More than that, I think this story of Herod's actions has something important to say to us today. Whenever we become fearful and suspicious like Herod, whenever we want to hold our positions of power and control over others at all costs, often it leads to the innocent paying the price.

I continue to pray that the sacrifice of these children and adults will wake us up to our need for God's love, a love that casts out our fear. Perhaps this can be a new beginning for us in hope and in love. Certainly that is what the Christmas season is always about. That is the light that the wise men searched for and found in the baby Jesus.

May God's love bind up the wounds in Newtown, in our town, and in all towns. May this year be the year that God's love takes hold like never before, that our fear of one another subsides, and the whole world begins to come together in God's love.

Wednesday Bible Study Class

"Why did God let this happen?" That is one of the questions many are asking in the weeks following the tragedy. If you are interested in discussing that question and others, please join me on Wednesday, January 16 at 10:30 am for the first of a four part series entitled, The Nature of Evil. We will look at the development of Satan in the Bible, how Jesus and others struggled with evil, and how that coincides with our understanding of God.

Adult Forum in Lent

This Lent we will look at the Mysteries of Faith. I don't mean mystery in the sense of a puzzle that needs to be worked out. I mean mystery "as the deep dimension of life where meaning dwells" (Mark McIntosh.) We will focus on the Mystery of Creation and the Mystery of Communion with particular emphasis on what scholars call the Paschal Mystery-the mystery of suffering, death, and resurrection.

We will engage this subject on Wednesday nights with Reel Spirituality IV using movies such as American Beauty, Contact, Fried Green Tomatoes, the Horse Whisperer, On the Waterfront and Field of Dreams. We will also address these mysteries at our adult forum hour in Lent with Dr. Melissa Perrin and other guest speakers.