Empire Begets Bloodshed

The Church today commemorates the massacre of the Holy Infants. The pathway of the birth of Christ was drenched by the warm blood of many infants who were not caressed and breastfed to their parents’ content of heart. What led to this was the parochial wisdom of the “wise men”. Disregarding the star at the rising, taking pride in their own shallow speculations which coerced them to travel to the palace of Herod for they anticipated that a King in all probability would be born in a palace, led to this brutal genocide, as always, siding with the Empire results in bloodshed.

The wise men were not wise enough to know that the Lord had subverted the wisdom of the world. He had replaced the palace with stable, throne with manger, exquisite robes with shabby swaddling clothes and crown with cross. Later as part of this bloody imperial legacy we were taught to sing “Silent Night, Holy Night” so that we may never hear the lament and groaning of those Rachel(s).

Children continue to bear the brunt of the decisions of “grown ups”. Marital disputes, unjust government policies, exploitation of natural resources under the pretense of “development”, the regressive baggage of socio-cultural traditions and the like. Christians cannot afford to stay numb to the ordeals of children as we foster the God consciousness of a 12 year old lad – the age at which Jesus addressed God, Father.

Let me draw your attention to a painting entitled “Scene du massacre des Innocents”(“Scene of the massacre of the Innocents”) by the largely overlooked Parisian painter, Leon Cogniet in 1824. Today it hangs in the Musee des Beaux-Arts, Rennes. The painting portrays a petrified, vulnerable and cornered mother who is at the verge of losing her son to the fury of the Empire. The painting is really disturbing because she looks right into our eyes with an interrogative gaze demanding an answer on whether we have sided with the Empire. Mike Frost writes; “Cogniet’s Scene du massacre des Innocents asks us to examine ourselves, to consider why this woman would be so scared of us, to examine the ways we have been co-opted by the forces of empire, and sided with the powerful over the weak and the poor…Empires continue to clash. The powerful continue to victimize children to secure their political goals. Mothers still cradled doomed children in their arms all around the world.”

Have we sided with the Empire?

Blessed Feast!
Dayroyo Fr. Basil

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