The Simple Catholic Snapshots:
- Two Thousand Years Ago a New King was Born
- King Herod Thought his Lifestyle and Kingdom were Threatened by the New King
- Herod Orders the Infant Innocents Slaughtered to Preserve his Status Quo
- Two Thousand Years Later The Innocent are Still Dying
- Mankind Needs the New King More Than Ever
The Simple Catholic Truth: **
In the Catholic liturgical calendar, today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, all those young boys in and around Bethlehem, two and under, whom Herod massacred in order to kill our real King. Sitting at Mass this morning, I listened to the Gospel reading (Mt 2: 13-18) and began to wonder:
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “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.”
Why was Herod so angry? Look at the above passage… Herod was in a “furious rage.” What possible threat could a little newborn boy pose to this “mighty” king? Without getting into a history lesson, it is clear that Herod thought very highly of himself as king of Judea to the point of delusion and paranoia. He had worked long and hard, and fought many battles to achieve the reward of his political position. He was suspicious of everyone, friends and enemies alike, that he saw as interfering with his due role as king of Judea. Burning with fears of conspiracies, he had many in the royal household executed, including his wife Mariame and three sons.
So we see that Herod, in order to preserve his lifestyle and position as “exalted” king, lashed out with lethal anger, even at his own flesh and blood.
Where does such human cruelty come from? Most of us are not born with extreme murderous fear of others. We have, unfortunately, inherited from Adam and Eve the propensity to be self absorbed. Usually, this selfish tendency is held in check with faith and civil laws that are consistent with a divine natural law. But today, many opinions have changed and our “just laws” are anything but.
Herod was clearly a fearful man – afraid of losing his identity that was formed around material possessions and self-indulgence. So centered on self, he was unmoved by the cries of wailing parents, or of suffering infants. Today, many others are afraid of a similar change and their modern actions surpass those of the ancient king of Judea.
It is clear that a new brand of Holy Innocents continue to be killed in our world through “choice.” As with Herod, it is often fear of change that motivates the killing. How will the baby be afforded?! What changes will this baby bring to my life that I cannot tolerate? I cannot deal with this! What if my parents know that I am pregnant? How will this pregnancy affect my career?! What if my father finds out I got my girlfriend pregnant!?
And society screams, ‘What about poverty? What about overpopulation?’
Thus fear drives the current bloodshed. Fear makes us focus on our self, such that we think too little of what we do to others. Calling it “choice” or “women’s health” or a “right”, the unthinkable becomes a bearable abstraction, a simple issue that is debated. Don’t call it a baby – the reality of pain is then out of sight and thus less real than the fear.
But, we can never forget the loss of the innocents just because they were so small and defenseless and silent. They were alive and just as real as you or I. As a society we must somehow face these fears and acknowledge the incalculable destruction we have brought on ourselves.
The only solution to this fear is faith and trust in God. God alone can set us free from the awful fears that currently lead to the tragedy of choice. But the solution must be more that lip service. We in the Church must be realistic about the legitimate fears that can surface when facing the mystery and challenges of new life. We must provide reasons for hope and trust. We must change people’s attitudes before we can change our laws.
If we only stand on the corner preaching and fail to reach out with understanding and active compassion, then fear will remain a cruel task-master driving us to do some pretty awful things.
In Bethlehem, there is a place of worship called the Church of the Holy Innocents. On one wall is a large mural depicting those children lost to Herod’s fear and anger. Notice the smiles of joy on these precious martyrs as they stand face to face with God.
We do not know their names but we know of them as the Holy Innocents and today we celebrate their ultimate sacrifice and role in salvation history.
Join me today in prayer, for those lost Innocents of 2000 years ago and of those lost Innocents of today. Pray for those facing that difficult choice. Pray for those victims of choice.
Ask God to touch the hearts of those in fear, that they will find comfort in the arms of Jesus, the King of Kings…
and fear no more.
** Some thoughts and words contained above were taken from an article that I have in my files. Unfortunately, I didn’t note the author(s) or source. I apologize for not providing due credit but these words were just too profound to ignore. To that man or woman whose words I share, thank you.