NOT FOR BABY

Author: Fr. Michael Byron
April 14, 2019

About 20 years ago I was living and going to school in Cambridge, MA.  Among other things, that city is known for many book stores.  And I used to spend a fair amount of time browsing through them.  I have no idea why, but one day I happened upon a slender volume on a clearance table in one of the stories that was titled, “Baby’s First Bible.”  It was just what it sounded like:  the story of Jesus, condensed and with color illustrations, for little kids to start learning about their faith.  I was curious to know how this book would have handled the episodes of Jesus’ cruel passion, appalling bloody death, and betrayal, and entombment.

To my amazement, when I flipped through the pages, I found my answer.  There was nothing about any of that in this little book.  The problem had been solved by writing the whole thing out of the story.  Jesus just died, and then it was Easter.  Apparently the author and editor and publisher had decided that there was no need to traumatize baby with the truth of the narrative.  So they put out a story without a cross, without blood, without torture, without deceit, without cries of despair and confusion.  

What we have just heard proclaimed here today is not a story for baby.  And what that little book was putting out there was not the bible.  It was a fairy tale.  

Our task as responsible, thoughtful, adult believes during the coming week is to simply sit in silence before the mystery of it all, before the real story of Jesus’ end.  If the drama doesn’t make tidy sense to us, then we are probably getting it exactly right.  It didn’t make sense to any of the disciples or the women then either.  

It is hard simply to stand in the face of what is a little too sad and overwhelming for us to comprehend.  But that is our invitation for prayer today.  This gospel is not for babies, or for those who profess faith in a fairy tale.  Let us ask our God for the courage to confront yet again the searing truth of Holy Week, and to allow the real memory to change us.

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