A Reflection on the Day of the Holy Innocents

A popular saying is that “Christmas is for children.” I concede the truth of that statement, but it is only a partial truth. This year, more than ever, I have realized the truth that Christmas is indeed for everyone, especially those of us who have known suffering this past year or whose suppressed suffering has resurfaced in response to the world’s myth that this is the “most wonderful time of the year.” In fact, it is literally the darkest time of the year. Yet, into the darkness comes the Light of Hope that there will be a better time. That true Light is Jesus and his Way of Love.

Still and all, I enjoy seeing the excitement in the faces of children at Christmas. I am writing this on the morning of December 24, with my five-year-old granddaughter by my side asking me questions about what I am doing now and when will Christmas be here and what do I think Santa will bring her. Children are a sign of Hope for a better time, a better future.

Soon after Christmas, however, comes the day in the Church year when we commemorate the death of the Holy Innocents. This year the day of commemoration is transferred to December 29.The stark reality of the slaughter of innocent young children to assuage the fears of that dark-hearted tyrant, Herod, is a sad counterpoint to the spirit of Christmas. Yet it grounds us in the reality of human existence. Innocents are victims of violence, greed, disease, calamity, and death every day. It is easy to forget that as we become immersed in the demands of our daily lives. Easy to forget, that is, until it touches our own lives or the lives of those we love.

If we are to follow the Way of Jesus, the Way of Love, we are called to open our eyes and ears to see the suffering in this world and to hear the cry of Rachel.

“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.” – Jeremiah 31:15

To this very day, Rachel, who represents the Motherhood of God, weeps for Her children. 

As the Mother of all children, she watches over us and weeps with and for us. She sheds a tear for every lonely child, for every suffering youngster or adult. In the new year that lies before us, may we commit ourselves to alleviating the suffering of others through prayer and through the spiritual and temporal gifts God our Mother in Heaven has graciously given to us. 

Deacon Vern