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Holy Innocents

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,* he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.* 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’

Matthew 2. 13 - 18

Tragically today we are never far from the voices of wailing mothers. When this "Feast of the Holy Innocents" used to pop up on this 4th day of Christmas, I would be sad at the tragic event, but today the thought of it is excruciating because I have seen too many pictures of wailing mothers in the Middle East since October 7th. In the Ignatian way of praying, staying with a scene and getting in touch with what is happening is the practice. But it is almost impossible to do that with this scene.

Where is the hope? Where is the Light in the darkness?

Why hatred, murder, torture, cruelty? What is it in a depraved human spirit that acts this way? Where is God in the midst of this worst of human heart breaks?

Perhaps God is in the dream and the call of Joseph, the power of prophecies, the death of Herod.

In 2016 in his address on the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents, Pope Francis said

“Christian joy is born from a call – the same call that Saint Joseph received – to embrace and protect human life, especially that of the holy innocents of our own day.” - Pope Francis

Perhaps the message of this Feast day is for us to embrace and protect human life, to be attuned to dreams and prophets and to beware of darkness that covets power.

It's still a bitterly painful memory.

Lully, lullah, thou little tiny child

Bye bye, lully, lully

O sisters too, how may we do

For to preserve this day?

This poor youngling for whom we do sing

"Bye bye, lully, lully"?

Herod the king, in his raging

Charged he hath this day

His men of might in his own sight

All young children to slay

That woe is me, poor child, for thee

And ever morn' and day

For thy parting neither say nor sing

"Bye bye, lully, lully"

Lully, lullah, thou little tiny child

Bye bye, lully, lully


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