Bishop Eric Menees
The week following Christmas is filled with special celebrations. On Tuesday we celebrated the Feast of St. Stephen – the first Deacon and Martyr - on Wednesday we celebrated the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, and today we celebrate the Feast of Holy Innocents.
Holy Innocents does not commemorate the birth of Jesus, but rather those innocent children killed as a result of a jealous and paranoid despot - Herod the Great. Herod realized that the Wise Men did not come back to report on the location of Jesus, who had been prophesied about, and so, in an attempt to eliminate a potential rival for the throne, he ordered the slaughter of all the male children under age two. Then was fulfilled what had been foretold by the prophet Jeremiah: “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, 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 that 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, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:16-18)
Our hearts cry out at the murder of the innocents today as much as they did two thousand years ago. And yet, every day innocent children are killed through war, preventable hunger, and through “choice.”
This day, let us weep for the over sixty million children legally aborted in the United States since Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. Let us weep for the loss of life and the loss of potential that these children represented.
Let us also weep for the women who felt they had no other choice and those who were pressured into making this decision. Let us weep for all the parents who are unable to conceive or bear children who have been denied the opportunity to adopt. Let us weep for a society that does not give sufficient support to pregnant women who aren’t sure what to do.
Let us pray: 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.