“Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.” – Ps. 124:7

The few days following Christmas may seem like a strange, maybe even uncomfortable, time to celebrate the earliest martyrs of our church. The joy we celebrate from God’s desire to become intimate with us by becoming one of us is followed the uneasiness of the deaths of those who were witnesses to Jesus Christ. St. Stephen who was the first martyr who chose to die for his faith in Jesus is commemorated the day after Christmas. Today the church remembers all the babies Herod killed because he was threatened by the announcement of the birth of the King of the Jews. Thus, the feast today is appropriately called Holy Innocents.

The word “innocent” is particularly descriptive of babies because they are full of love as God created them and without the layers of doubt, fear, and weariness that beset us as we grow older. The loss of innocence is a common sentiment as we become more experienced in life: perhaps growing up in a broken home, facing the aftermath of a failed relationship, or becoming jaded from the injustices across the world. It is tempting to build our protective fortresses to secure ourselves from the pains of the human condition.

Christmas is about God coming into this world as the Word to fulfill the law, to give us a new law of love, and to make all things new. Jesus came to tear down the barriers that shields us from joy and fuller lives in order to regain our original capacity for love – our innocence. This is not done in a way as to deny our suffering, fragility, and brokenness. Rather, our innocence is restored by working through those wounds and seeing them as an avenue in which transformation to a fuller, deeper, and more communal life is possible.

Lord Jesus, thank you for coming into this world to restore us into your original image and winning back our innocence.

Michael Jamnongjit