Feast of the Holy Innocents
A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation…. -Matthew 2:18
We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs, today. We are all aware of the brutal slaying of all the baby boys two years and under who lost their lives all because of a demonic king who acted maliciously in his attempt to kill Jesus and retain his kingship! Unbeknownst to Herod, Jesus, Mary and Joseph had been warned in a dream to flee to Egypt to escape the blood bath that was about to happen. It is so sad to see and hear how the innocent children in our midst today suffer unnecessary abuse and persecution. It seems no matter the situation, whether it is war, poverty, domestic abuse, bullying, the children are the ones who suffer the most!
During this Christmas season, I have enjoyed watching how little children react so innocently to the events of the season. Watching the faces of these children as the figure of the baby Jesus is placed in the manger at the first mass on Christmas Eve or the magical appearance of Santa Claus as he makes his visit on the Polar Express train ride, we recently enjoyed during a family outing. The facial expressions and actions highlighted the innocence of these special young ones. We all know that we were that young and innocent once! What happened to that time of wonder and awe?! When did the darkness overtake the light in our world and ourselves?
Each of us received a small bell from Santa during the train ride. We were told to hold it close to our ear and see if we could hear it ring. If we heard it, that meant we were a believer and if we didn’t hear any sound, it meant we must not be a believer. We were encouraged to ring the bell often and to take seriously what it means to Believe!
It seems to be harder to be a believer these days when we are surrounded by so much uncertainty, violence, unhappiness, gloom and doom brought about by the King Herods of our time. We need to take time during this Christmas season to celebrate the birth of the newborn babe born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem. Maybe it’s time for us to reflect on the innocence of our own youth, however short or long ago it was, and get in touch again with the Believer in each of us. In this way just maybe the chaos that seems to color our world so much will cease to have so much power over us, and Jesus’s light can shine forth from us.
During this time of year, we focus a lot on helping others whether it be food donations, toy drives, blanket collections and so many other ways to ease the plight of those in need. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had the opportunity to go a step further and take the time to get to know some of those we so generously helped through our donations? I am thinking more about the children who are suffering in so many ways in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, shelters, etc.
In the first reading from 1 John today, we read: ‘God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.”
May we be people who birth the light of Jesus, willing to recapture the innocence of our past and celebrate the good news of that blessed event that happened so long ago in a stable in Bethlehem! Believe and rejoice!
Have a Blessed Christmas season and a healthy and holy New Year!
Theresa Secord is a retired Pastoral Associate at St. Agnes Parish, Louisville, Kentucky.