Here in Australia, within a few short days of Martin Place we heard of a second tragic happening. The tragic killing of the eight young children in Cairns. Innocent children belonging to an overwhelmed mother who was left to fend for herself. In the states we hear of regular episodes of deranged gunmen enter a school and terrorizing children, so often with scores of tragic deaths.We remain mystified by the mass kidnapping of the 200 school girls in Africa by Boka Haram. More recently the killing of 180 children in the Pakistani school by the Taliban. The accounts could go on and on as we consider the recruitment of children as soldiers, or the child sex industry. It is all soul destroying
Are we so innocent. Consider the children we keep locked up in detention centres as part of our deterrence to asylum seekers. It seemed we had just begun to come to terms with our past misguided policy that led to the stolen generation. Even we in Australia have not been innocent when it has involved the cases of pedophilia in the church
What is baffling is that in all cases people end up justifying their behaviour. Why oh why oh why do people act so appallingly, with little concern for the welfare of the child. Jesus was even more disturbed, so much so that he warned ‘ it would be better that a millstone were tied around the neck of someone who hurt one of these little ones and dropped into the see’
A PSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
In our times we would speak of such behaviour as the shear self-centred indulgence of someone locked into their own egotistical world.
It is an aggressive and destructive action by a person who has taken advantage of their greater power over another with no power. It reveals that the person or culture has lost their moral integrity. They have lost their capacity to see the picture of how human development unfolds in a young persons life or how behaviour impacts upon what either enhances or destroys communal living. It is devoid of any sensitivity to the spiritual consequences of their actions.
What is that vision they are missing? Lets start with Jesus words.
“Let the children come to me, do not stop them”
Essential to healthy development of a child is the building of relationships of love, of affirmation and belonging. Of course there are parameters that such behaviour requires. The most fundamental attitude of life is trust, and trust is enhanced by the learning of discernment. Jesus followed up with those probing words, that, “unless one becomes like a little child one will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
What a challenge but it is an array of attitudes that characterize the life of a child. Those attitudes I have already mentioned, trust, love, creativity, hope, relationality. These are the attitudes that undergird all else that we might learn to do and accomplish in our progressive growth and development right through adulthood.
How profound to think that in one of the most profound passages of scripture, (1 Corinthians 13) the greatest of all life’s gifts are listed as these attitudes of faith, hope and love. These are a few of the first attitudes that bud in a child’s life. They become the core pillars upon which the healthy life is built.
The wonder of Christmas is its message of new life. The journey of life must be nurtured and developed. It does so in the context of great challenge. Some of those challenges are the most destructive. The Christmas story introduces this reality with the repulsive, self-serving life of Herod.
The tinsel loving Christmas is over. The Christmas journey calls us to be committed to the depth of love that leads to Easter.