The Massacre of the Holy Innocents

by Fr. Christian Mathis on December 15, 2012

Each year on December 28, the Church commemorates the massacre of the Holy Innocents. This year the feast day came early. As I listened to reports yesterday of yet another school shooting, I could not help but think of Matthew’s account of a massacre carried out 2,000 years ago as my prayers were joined with so many others in our nation for the families in Connecticut.

Once Herod realized that he had been deceived by the astrologers, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys two years old and under in Bethlehem and its environs, making his calculations on the basis of the date he had learned from the astrologers. What was said through Jeremiah the prophet was then fulfilled: “A cry was heard at Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation: Rachel bewailing her children; no comfort for her, since they are no more.” (Matthew 2: 16-18)

It is difficult to imagine the grief of the families who lost their loved ones in yesterday’s senseless shooting. There are no doubt gifts that will never be opened by lost children who can never be replaced. There will also certainly be those who will celebrate Christmas with a deeper sense of thankfulness for the gift and presence of their loved ones.

Christmas is a celebration of the coming of a savior, one who would help us to overcome the evil of this world. Each year the Church also reminds us of just how serious that evil is with the feast of the Holy Innocents. Yesterday we had an added reminder. Christ continues to invite us to join him in the fight against sin in our world and that fight begins with ourselves. A prayer that is always most helpful to me is one of the preparation prayers for communion in the Eastern Church which says,

I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first.

My prayers continue to go out to those in Connecticut who mourn their children. My prayer is also that we Christians will continue the hard work of ridding ourselves of sin. Prayer and even the smallest actions of love are powerful weapons in the battle against the evil still present in our world today.

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  • Father Shelton

    Well said, Father Christian, very well said indeed.

  • Centavo-aqui

    Thank you for this insightful post, and for sharing, “I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first.” I have copied this into my Laudate, as a most needed reminder. The massacre in CT., is not my sin, but a reminder of the many others, I carry…. Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me. Amen!

  • Fr. Christian Mathis

    Yes, this specific sin is not your sin nor mine, and there is little beyond prayer that we can do to take the grief from those who lose their children. We can, however, when trying to find a solution begin with the things we have control over, like our own struggle with evil.

    I fully believe that our own actions of goodness or lack thereof have a larger effect than we realize.

  • Centavo-aqui

    Yes, I believe our choices, whether for good or evil, have more power than we comprehend…

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