This time between Christmas and Epiphany, occurring on Jan. 6, is known in the Christian tradition as the Twelve Days of Christmas.
This interval moves us from the birth of Jesus to the early recognition of his divinity by the Magi. It is a celebration that carries us from the sentimental to the sacramental, and not surprisingly, brings both comfort and challenge as we ponder what it meant and continues to mean for God to become human.
This Christmas was particularly poignant as we hugged our children even tighter between tears of grief for those who lost their own in Newtown. It has been a season of disquieting questions and attempts at answers, oft times more troubling than the questions. Authorities dutifully attempt to discern the details of how, but no investigation, no information or explanation will ever really tell us why.
Pseudo-prophets who pretend to answer “why” by invoking God’s judgment are not only misguided but display a disturbing lack of understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures, the teachings of Jesus and the subsequent lessons of the New Testament. The perturbing question I have frequently heard is “Where is God?”
I confess that, upon seeing those 20 little ones gone before their time, I too, mumbled and muttered that question between my tears.
We are not alone in our questioning, even the psalmist dared to ask, in one translation of Psalm 35 crying, “How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?”
Yes, we can grasp that God has given each of us a free will, but then the question comes: if God is omnipotent, why can’t God take back that will when clearly it is going to do so much damage? Even human parents would stop their child from hurting another, wouldn’t they? But then, the shooter’s mother didn’t or couldn’t.