Holy Innocents

Matthew 2:13-18

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents in which the Church recalls and honors those baby boys whose lives were taken in a murderous rage by Herod who was frightened by the coming of the Christ. The Holy Innocents are numbered by the Church among Christ’s martyrs.


On this sacred Feast, we honor their sacrifice and memory as we offer glory and honor to our God. But we are also called to learn from their lesson and fight for the children whose lives have been taken.


These innocent children had to die because their death was ordered by a powerful man who loved himself more than he loved God. Satan and his evil designs continue to wage war against the innocents. Many have been lured into his evil. Such men and women continue to attack God’s most vulnerable even in our day through their hatred and deceit.


It’s interesting that today’s first reading speaks of light and deception, that “if we say, ‘We have fellowship with him,’ while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth.”  If we claim we're following Christ while deliberately doing or condoning what is unGodly and dark, we are “liars".  Like Herod, there are many in this age who deceive and put their self-concern above the interests of the innocent children through their advocacy of, or taking part in, abortion for example.


Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me”, and if we deny his truth, we deny him.


The truth about abortion was spelled out by Pope John Paul II when he proclaimed, "I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself and proclaimed by the Church". This statement by the Pope leaves no room for ambiguity.


But the world, however, has told us that the truth is what we want it to be or what feels right to the individual.  The world’s goal is to promote this kind of ambivalence to the truth. As a definition, ambivalence is the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something.


We must not dishonor innocent lives lost by our own ambivalence. And we must not be ignorant of the historical fact that the world and all too many of the world’s governments are not friends of Christianity.


I saw recently that in Oslo, the capital of Norway, there is a large brightly lit sign that spans a pedestrian bridge, just blocks from the Norwegian Parliament that says “Truth is Flexible.” The Norwegian culture has so drifted from its long and rich Christian heritage that, despite the fact that 9 in 10 Norwegians are members of a church, only 1 in 10 attend. One is left to wonder, how could this slide happen inside one generation? And of course, we have evidence of our own ambivalence to the truth, and faith in general, in this country.


The Church reminds us of this adversity on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, not to take away our joy and peace, but to prepare us for this life as pilgrims in a dangerous and inhospitable world, to affirm life from conception to natural death, and ask for forgiveness when we ourselves have been among the deceivers.


We are invited to find hope in the fact that we can entrust ourselves to God, no matter what the world says or does. We are invited to fight for the inherent dignity within every human life, no matter what age or stage of human development. We are invited to advocate for those who are vulnerable: the unborn, women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, the homeless, children with special needs, families seeking to adopt orphans, and many others.  There are so many organizations that do such good work that could always use more help.


And so we pray, Dear Lord, you are the way and the truth and the life. Help us to shake off the world’s deceitful narratives, and our own ambivalence. Help guide us to be more charitable to all innocent human life with our words and actions. And give us the faith to follow you each day, knowing that under your loving care, you will work all things together for our good.




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