The Cries of the Children

– Feast of the Holy Innocents –

“He (Herod) was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or younger.”  [Matthew 2:16]

We are back to the Christmas story today, but the dark side of this extraordinary event. When Herod discovers that he has been ‘tricked by the wise men’ he orders the massacre of innocent young children in an attempt to destroy the king of the Jews. Jesus is saved this fate because Joseph responds quickly to a warning in a dream and escapes with Mary and their newborn to Egypt.

Even Jesus, whose life, death and resurrection opened the doors of salvation for each and every human being, cannot stop the death of these little ones, brought about by the fury, jealousy and fears of an insecure leader threatened by a competitor. So too, in our time, there are many innocent lives lost to the ravages of war, hunger, disease and greed. The cries of these children and their grieving parents call us to act.

Pope Francis’ Letter to Bishops on the Feast of the Holy Innocents (28 December 2016) states: ‘To contemplate the manger in isolation from the world around us would make Christmas into a lovely story that inspires warm feelings but robs us of the creative power of the Good News that the Incarnate Word wants to give us. The temptation is real. Can we truly experience Christian joy if we turn our backs on these realities? Can Christian joy even exist if we ignore the cry of our brothers and sisters, the cry of the children?’

We pray today that we have the courage to speak up and act for children whose lives are at risk.


By Mike Humphrys

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