By Kenneth Tanner
God takes the form of a baby because divine helplessness is greater than any other force in the universe.
When on the first Christmas divine humility and powerlessness and poverty are revealed as the foundation of all that exists, this revelation of God in the flesh threatens all human notions of power, all human leadership that rests on exertions of might.
Real Christmas was and remains political. The conception and birth of Jesus—the helpless, silent infant who spoke all things into existence and who holds all things together—set a challenge to all other rulers and kingdoms, visible and invisible.
All temporal rulers instinctively know they are bested by an eternal kingdom of others-directed, self-sacrificial love that does not seek its own, that does not keep a record of wrongs, that is not jealous, that seeks to serve rather than to be served.
Herod knew the jig was up, that the age of self-seeking rulers was now exposed and that the game was over. Herod turned to murder to try to reimpose the old order, as have so many visible and invisible powers down the centuries since the Incarnation, since God took up permanent residence as a member of the human race in Jesus Christ.
I appreciate the way this artist captures the horror real infants and real mothers faced in the aftermath of the real Christmas, the infamous slaughter of male Hebrew children in and around Bethlehem that me remember today.
Fleeting worldly powers desperate to hold on to a false power that is being defeated by divine humility lash out. They always do, for violence is their defeated way of maintaining strength.
What they did not know is that in (eventually) killing Jesus Christ they reversed the permanence not only of their rule but of all their violent actions.
These poor children and all who suffer violence have in Jesus Christ a glorious way now to endure beyond suffering and death, to shine forever in the kingdom of their Father, while the kingdoms of this world and their violence await permanent, shameful expiration.
A blessed Fourth Day of this great feast of the Incarnation to you and yours. Remember the Innocents. We have inherited a kingdom; we await a world without end.