But our slaughter of the wholly innocent came two weeks ago.
We don’t as a rule make much of the Feast of the Holy Innocents in the Church. Although most Mormons know the story, I doubt you could find more than a handful of members in your ward who have ever heard of the commemoration.
I do not know, but suspect, that a small part of this is our belief that all who die as little children are wholly innocent. Mormon was quite emphatic that the justice of God requires that such be cleansed from any stain of original sin through Christ’s Atonement. In their case, justice and mercy are equally served. It is only for the rest of us, who have lived to willfully sin, for whom justice and mercy seem to collide. We tend to see the purpose of the Atonement as reconciling justice and mercy for sinners like us. We sometimes forget that there are many other aspects to it, which seems reason enough to pay a little more attention to December 28.
Of course, there are many other dates we could pay more attention to. It turns out some of my relatives routinely celebrate Twelfth Night, mostly as an excuse to hand out just a few more presents and because their little ones like digging through cake for the chocolate coin that will make then King for the Day. And why not?
Some time back, Dan Peterson discussed one of the more ludicrous accusations made against the Church by its enemies*, which is that we have replaced Christmas by “Smithmas.” I have a vague notion that Joseph Smith was born a few days before Christmas, and I’ve heard it mentioned maybe every fourth or fifth Christmas I’ve been a member of the Church, but that’s the extent to which I’ ve seen Joseph Smith displace Christ at Christmastime. This year, I didn’t hear Joseph Smith’s birthday mentioned even once in church. Brother Joseph is decidedly an afterthought during the holiday season, as in this post. But perhaps it is an afterthought worth thinking, even if we run the risk of being accused of substituting Joseph for Jesus. (Which we do not.) Christ is the Master; Joseph Smith was a servant, and, yes, even Joesph was an unprofitable one, at that. Would I were as unprofitable!
*Not the most ludicrous. That would be the claim that we deny the Incarnation. After all, it says so right in the Book of Mormon … in the prayer offered by the Zoramites atop their Rameumpton. No, really, I saw this wholly dishonest accusation in an anti-Mormon tract back in my Jedi Temple days. One must not assume good faith when reading anything by an anti-Mormon.