December 27, 2017

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Massacre of the Holy Innocents

Although Christmas is a joyous season celebrating the birth of the Infant Savior, it is nevertheless a holiday tinged with sadness. After all, it is the beginning of a journey, the sacred life of Christ, which must pass through Good Friday in order to reach the glory of Easter Sunday. For Christians, the Passion of Our Lord is foreshadowed by the Feast of the Holy Innocents, a somber commemoration that is solemnly observed a mere three days after the Incarnation, on December 28th.

While the number of these holy innocents is unknown, some Biblical scholars speculate that there may have been as few as six, the reason for their death is what causes the Church to venerate them as martyrs. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Herod, the king of Judea, was "greatly troubled" by the news, delivered to him by the Wise Men, that a different "king of the Jews" had been born. Insecure as he was on his throne, any threat to his power was cause for alarm. When the Magi did not return after their visit to the Christ Child, Herod's fury and jealousy knew no bounds. In an attempt to murder the tiny king, he ordered the slaughter of all male children under the age of two in the town of Bethlehem. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus fled into Egypt, and the Holy Innocents died in the Christ Child’s stead.

Prayer to the Holy Innocents

Holy Innocents, you died before you were old enough to know what life means, pray for children who die young that God may gather them into His loving arms.

Holy Innocents, you were killed because one man was filled with hatred, pray for those who hate that God may touch their hearts and fill them with love.

Holy Innocents, you experienced a violent death, pray for all who are affected by violence that they may find peace and love.

Holy Innocents, your parents grieved for you with deep and lasting sorrow, pray for all parents who have lost young children that God may wrap a warm blanket of comfort around them.

Holy Innocents, those around you certainly felt helpless to prevent your deaths, pray for all who feel helpless in their circumstances that they may cling to God for courage and hope.

Holy Innocents, you who are now in Heaven, pray for all of us that one day we may join you there to bask in God's love forever. Amen.

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