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Innocents

December 28, 2020

“Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children, because they are no more.” Jeremiah 31:15

Today, the Fourth Day of Christmas, is also the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Herod, incensed that he has been tricked by the Wise Men, orders that all children under the age of two in and around Bethlehem be put to death. If he can’t find the child named Jesus, he will simply kill all the children. Joseph, warned in a dream by an angel of the Lord, flees to Egypt with Mary and their child. Other families suffer.

The coming of Christ is not good news to the tyrants of this world, those who would inflict suffering and evil upon this world’s masses to gain or retain even a sliver of power. This episode from Matthew’s Gospel may or may not be historical, but it is accurate to the ravages of history. Children are all too often ripped from the arms of their mothers. Death and terror abound in this world. The Feast of the Holy Innocents forces us to confront this truth.

But death and terror do not get the last word. In our reading today from Jeremiah, the Lord says a few verses later, “There is hope for your future.” Jesus is not killed by Herod but he will be killed soon enough, another innocent put to death by this world’s powers. Jesus, however, is raised. In him, all the lost children, all the weeping mothers, all the men powerless to resist, shall be raised up in glory. All children who have died too soon shall live in the life of Christ, the child who died for them. And the tyrants will be toppled down.

May we, on this side of eternity, stand forever with the innocents, for they are precious to our God.

Your carol for the day is “Coventry Carol,” a haunting lament for these lost children.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God, we remember today the innocents slaughtered in Bethlehem, and all children lost too soon. We weep for victims of tyranny and terrorism. We pray for this world, addicted as it is to death. Let the life of Christ fill all in all. In him, give us courage to work for peace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Le Massacre des Innocents, Léon Cogniet, 1824 (public domain).

From → COVID-19

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