Whatever time you are reading this, the chances are that you have already checked the news at least once today.
You know the cricket score in Melbourne. You may have heard that the UK government is targeting rogue landlords. That burglars broke into a church in South Wales on Christmas Day. That American Airlines issued an apology to two basketball players they had falsely accused of stealing a blanket.
But do you know that it is Holy Innocents Day today? The day we remember the story of King Herod who, when hearing the news about Jesus – the baby who might grow up to challenge his kingship, ordered all the babies in Bethlehem to be slaughtered.
We religiously follow the news – morning and evening and often at other times during the day. But we no longer observe matins or vespers – points in the day when we might spend time reflecting on scripture and listening to God.
The philosopher Hegel said, ‘Societies become modern when news replaces religion as our central source of guidance and touchstone of authority.’
So what difference would it make if we stopped slavishly tracking every development in every situation – both important and trivial – in our world today? And what if, instead, we set aside a short time to read our Bibles and to reflect on the daily readings?
If we did that today, not only would we know that it is Holy Innocents Day, we would be reminded that – despite Herod’s monstrous slaughter – the evil tyrant does not ultimately triumph in life. Herod dies unloved and disrespected and, according to the Christin faith, stands in judgement before Christ - the child of all innocence he was attempting to kill.
We would read the Old Testament story of Joseph and how his jealous brothers attempted to kill him. And yet, how he too ultimately triumphed over this evil. How God brought good out of the depths of despair.
We would hear Jesus say to his disciples in the New Testament, ‘Truly I tell you unless you change and become like little children…you will never enter the Kingdom of God.’ Unless we change and become like little children, we will never have a world of unconditional peace – the world God wants for us.
So, what difference would it make if we were all today reflecting on the innocence of children - and how we can be more like them? How we can trust that the Herods of this world will not ultimately triumph.
What difference would this make if, amidst the maelstrom of random news stories we are bombarded with 24/7, we just thought about the children for one day? Children killed in the suicide bomb attack in Kabul yesterday. Children suffering from diphtheria in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. Children neglected and homeless in our own country today.
Making a habit of reading scripture every day and allowing this to guide us and be our touchstone of authority would, I believe, make ALL the difference. In helping us to see what God wants us to see. In giving us hope that things will not always be the way they are. And in equipping us with courage to stand up for the innocent and play our part in bringing in God’s kingdom.
Posted by Martine Oborne