Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs. In the attempt to kill the infant Jesus, King Herod the Great murdered all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or younger (Matthew 2:16-18). Since they were killed because of Christ, the Church very early honored these babies as “the buds of the martyrs,” killed by the frost of hate as soon as they appeared. The Holy Innocents remind us of the terrible cruelty which sin has brought into the world. Their deaths point forward to the death and resurrection of the Innocent One, Jesus Christ through whom God has conquered sin and death.
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
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. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “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 2:13-18)
Collect of the Day:
Almighty God, the martyred innocents of Bethlehem showed forth Your praise not by speaking but by dying. Put to death in us all that is in conflict with Your will that our lives may bear witness to the faith we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.