What does it take to stand up to EVIL?
Edmund Burke has said that "the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing." So if there is something we can do or are supposed to do to prevent evil from winning then for the love of God man us what to do.
But what if "doing something heroic" to stand up to evil and stop it is not what is actually called far?
Each year right about now I read the story of the slaughter of the innocents, when King Herod ordered the slaughter and killing of all the baby boys under two to be sure of the death of newly born Jesus, I'm struck by the monstrous violence of it all. I'm moved by the death of so many children and the way that we as a society still do not protect the lives and well being of the most vulnerable and innocent amongst us.
But after that moment of sorrow passes I move on with life-I don't do anything much less something. I give myself a pass on the slaughter of the innocents because that happened in the past and there is nothing I can do about the past.
But what about the present?
The present is the most important time. To be shackled by the past imprisons us in our regrets and to look only to the future robs the joy of what is right now for the promise of what may never be. The present is where we live and it is in the present that we can each act and make a better today and God willing a better tomorrow.
But when looking at the way we as a people devalue the inherent dignity and worth of every human life. The inherent dignity and value that exists in each human life because we have been created in the very image and likeness of God. I get demoralized and demotivated. The problems of hunger, poverty, racism, getting people to cooperate so we can get to the other side of the pandemic, just seem to big and too hard. Even the ability to make a difference in our church can seem real and daunting. It can feel hopeless.
But this year I was not struck by the violence of King Herod and his acts. I did not get sacked into the compassion traps and throw up my hands desperation and just move ON.
I was struck by how afraid King Herod, representative of the biggest, baddest empire the world has ever seen, was. I was shocked by how shaken Herod was by this little baby in a manger. So afraid that he was moved to genocide which seems like a pretty big line to cross even if you have some wicked tendencies.
I mean babies are not really that scary, I was 16 when my sister was born and frequently check in on the infants in our pre-school. Babies just are not that scary. They eat, sleep, play, and need to get their diapers changed. Then the cycle repeats itself. Babies just don't do that much.
And yet King Herod, backed up by the biggest empire in the world, was so afraid of baby Jesus that he was moved to genocide.
Why? Why was Herod so afraid of little baby Jesus? Baby Jesus did not have to do anything to strike fear into the heart of Herod because as St. John reminds as Jesus is the light that
shines out in the darkness and behold the darkness could not overcome it. Jesus strikes fear in the heart of Herod and all those small minded wicked hearted hate filled people that are the rightful heirs of Herod because he is the light and the true king who will destroy them and everything they stand for Just by living and following the will of his father.
Jesus is the terror of bigots, fry rents, and all those who seek their own will and oppose God's righteousness and justice that will flow like a mighty river-sweeping them away. At the first Christmas Herod and so many others in history heard the mighty rushing river for the first time as it reverberated through history.
Each follower of Jesus is to be the light in the darkness. Note I did not say Christian, for there are many who call themselves Christian but don't follow the Christ and are in danger of hearing the Lord telling them to depart from him on the last day when he comes again because he has never known them.
To defeat evil does not require you to do anything particularly heroic but it does require you to do small things consistently. It was not Jesus' actions that harrowed Herod’s heart but his quiet holy existence that refused to go away. Defeating evil, in all its forms, is about quietly following Jesus and being holy.
Defeating evil is about quietly saying your prayers and refusing to go gently into the good night. Defeating evil is about refusing to allow people to say and do things that are anti-Christ in their nature with out speaking up for what is good and right.
Though it may not seen like enough or like it is making a difference listen and look intently. That sound you is a mighty rushing river coming. That commotion see off in distance is the powerful scurrying away in a desperate already foiled attempt to escape God's judgement that is already being rendered.
They are running and are vicious because like Herod before then they are afraid of that quiet won't quit light of Christ because they know they here already lost.