Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Innocents

And here we have the 3rd feast day of the first week of Christmas. This time an enraged King Herod orders the murders of all boys in the area under the age of two in an attempt to kill this new "king" the wise men had told him about. Merry Christmas?

This is another one of those mysterious paradoxes - the birth of a Savior and the death of innocent babies. No sooner had Jesus arrived on Earth and someone was trying to kill Him. There have been various numbers thrown around over the centuries. Were 144,000 or 14,000 slaughtered? Or perhaps it was between 400 and 4? Bethlehem was a small village so the number was probably on the lower end of the scale but regardless of the number - if it was your son that Herod was after then one would have been too many.

So who are the Herods that children around the world fear today? And what is our responsibility? May we see Christ in every child we encounter today, realizing that we are all called to nurture and protect the innocent.

We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The icon: troparion for the holy innocents - "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation: Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they were no more."


Becky (The Little Sister) said...

Here in the Los Angeles area we are consumed with the News of the distraught ex-husband who dressed up as Santa and killed most of his ex-wife's family. Even in our crazy world today this story made me step back and take time to pray for both families.

13 children are without a parent.

brad said...

Roberta, very, very well done. And you know, it's not only good to
ask, "Who are the Herods?" I found myself thinking about "Who are
the children?" They are not only dying in Afghanistan and in Iraq
and in Gaza and in Israel. They are riding skateboards on Water
Street where somebody tries to sell them drugs and they are living in
the Homeless Shelter with their childhood killed through necessity to
face an adult world full of danger. Every tiny thing we do to help
helps Him...
Thank you too, dear Roberta, for the thoughtful Christmas gift.
Love, Brad