I am writing this reflection on Thursday, December 28th. My daily devotion reminds me that December 28th is observed in the church as the Holy Innocents, martyrs. It is a reminder that violence of the world descended upon Bethlehem not long after Jesus birth as Herod ordered the killing of infants to eliminate Jesus. There is no record of this event outside of Matthew's Gospel and some believe that it may have been as many as 14,000 children that were killed. While there is nothing about this outside of Matthew, it is true to Herod who drowned his 16-year-old brother-in-law, killed his uncle, aunt, and mother in law and even his two sons.
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
"A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more."
My daily devotion suggested that this is fitting time for us to remember all of the innocent children killed throughout history, from those who suffered in the death camps of WWII to those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Perhaps if written more recently it would have included Sandy Hook and the church in Texas. Unfortunately, we continue to be able to add to the lists of children who though innocent have suffered violence and death.
While the Holy Innocents are on the calendar, I don't think it is observed often because who wants to think about this just days after Christmas. At the same time, we know that Jesus came as the Messiah who would allow swords to be beaten into plow shares. Where might this day, innocent children be suffering in NW Ohio and around the globe? How might our faith bear witness and inspire action to confront and stop it?
O God, the Holy Innocents this day bore witness to you not by speaking words but by dying in place of your infant Son: Grant, we pray, that the faith we profess with our lips we may proclaim with our lives; thorough your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (1952 Roman Missal)