Commentary on the Gospel of

Angela Maynard-Creighton University's Student Health Services & Johnson Joseph, cmf

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

Matthew writes: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.

Just three days ago, we were listening to choirs of angels singing, hearing of shepherds hurrying to Bethlehem, and what seemed to be the whole world was paying homage to the newborn baby, Jesus.  Today we get a glimpse of what Jesus had in store for him through his lifetime on Earth.  Herod was furious and ordered the killing of all the boys in Bethlehem two years and younger.  ALL OF THEM!

This seems to be a feast that is easily forgotten, but it actually crucial to never forget!

Many say there is no pain worse than the loss of a child.  I can’t imagine what the people of Bethlehem experienced during this time.  As a long-time pediatric critical nurse, I’ve been with too many people as they lost a child.  It never gets easier.  Each life is precious and should be treated as such.

As I reflect on today’ gospel my mind wanders to innocent children who are in danger, or dying by no fault of their own.  I think of parents who would truly do ANYTHING to save their precious child.

Children remain at risk.  UNICEF reported that there will be 167 million children living in extreme poverty by 2030.  It is predicted that globally, 69 million children under the age of five will die between now and 2030.  Children around the world suffer from war, slavery and various forms of abuse.  It’s hard to transition from adoring a beautiful infant born in a stable to loving parents to considering the harsh realities of many children.

Pope Francis challenges all of us to protect life, acknowledge the reality faced by too many children while protecting their dignity as God’s children.  Specifically, “life will not only be respected but above all defended.”

Today, let us take some time to remember the innocent who suffer.  We can take time to remember those whose lives  seem to be devalued by today’s society.  We can take time to be thankful that Jesus was spared, for things could be very different had He been killed.  And, we can take time to remember and to pray for peace.





December 28

 There is a fort on a hill near Bethlehem considered as the tomb of King Herod. In the same village there is stable where Jesus was born. Two different kings draw our attention: one was cruel, killed his mother, wife, sons and anyone who stood on his way. At the climax of his cruelty, the infants shed blood for Christ.

These innocent children and their parents suffered for Christ. The message is clear: Suffering, persecution and martyrdom are the lot of all who chose to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus’ own suffering, humiliation and death on a cross for our eternal salvation was reflected in the death of the innocents. Unlike Herod, who eliminated innocent lives, Jesus, the humble king offers life eternal to the infants. They became the first ones to receive his gift of life that Jesus offers. Innocents continue to shed blood and life even today all around the world. Coming of Christ has made it possible for us to see a new light and right direction.

The memory of Holy Innocents should inspire us to shine Christ’s light first into our own hearts and then on our world in order to ensure that on our life journey fewer and fewer innocents will suffer on account us and on account of mindless system.


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