Feast of the Holy Innocents
Today is the traditional Feast of the Holy Innocents, those children who according to the Gospel story were killed at the order of King Herod in order to protect his own power and domination. This abuse continues in our own time. We see children victimized by those in power. They die from war and terrorism. They suffer and die from disease, malnutrition, and trafficking all over the earth. We also see “innocents” among the many species of plants and animals that have been extinguished because of our destructive ways of living. All of these are blessed innocents who carried a beauty and potential that will never be realized because the economic and political powers of the world do not consider them a priority. We may read the gospel story with appropriate horror, but where is our horror and dismay at what is happening daily? How complicit are we through our lack of civic awareness or indifference?
O God whose compassion embraces children and suffering families, give them the strength and consolation they need and help us to find ways to free our country from the causes of ingrained violence.
Be aware of political decisions that potentially deprive children of the necessities of health and safety. Be aware of destructive policies that cause species extinction Hold those who support decisions that harm children and the natural world accountable for their actions. Don’t let your own hidden prejudice dull your compassion.
When Herod realized he had been deceived by the Magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and under. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah, the prophet:
“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.”
Matthew 2:13 – 16
Childhood, given its fragile nature, has unique and inalienable needs.
We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.
There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.
By our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim… we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most vicious crimes conceivable, a violation of mankind’s most basic duty to protect the innocent.
James T. Walsh
Many of those coming to our borders are fleeing starvation, violence or death. The separation of children from their parents in these situations, whether as a means of punishment or deterrence, is inhumane and entirely unacceptable.
Arizona Conference of Catholic Bishops
When the lives and the rights of children are at stake, there must be no silent witnesses.
We must pay attention to the millions of children of this generation who are caught up in armed conflicts. How can we protect them from the worst consequences of war? And when hostilities cease, how can we take the war out of them?
The ultimate test of a moral society
is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.