Today is not a happy remembrance in the calendar of Church feasts. It is the commemoration of “the Holy Innocents,” the victims of Herod’s massacre of all the baby boys under two years old. Herod was determined to eliminate the possibility that someone – a “new-born” king (Jesus) – would usurp his power. Since he had no idea of where that child might be found, his rage prompted the terrible deed that left so many mothers bereft. It was a fruitless gesture, as violence always is, because Jesus and his parents were well on their way to Egypt when the massacre occurred.
This violence is replicated in our time whenever war and senseless killing happens around the world. I see in my mind’s eye faces of Syrian children in the bombed-out buildings in Aleppo. Closer to home are the images of Sandy Hook just five years ago this month. Although murder is always difficult to endure, the tragedy always seems more horrific when innocent children are killed almost before their lives have begun.
I am praying for parents today, especially for mothers who have lost a child for any reason or no reason at all. For those whose children die because of senseless violence, drug abuse, war, starvation, traffic or other accidents, suicide…so many causes that leave a gaping hole in the hearts of those left behind.
The poignant message of today’s gospel, which Matthew (MT 2:18) saw as
the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy, calls for our prayer for the sorrowing today. We cannot ignore the pain of his words that speak to the cry heard in our own day around the world: “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.”