December 28

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 slaughter continues in our own time. We see children victimized by war and terrorism. Children suffer and die from disease, malnutrition, and trafficking all over the earth. This nation continues to be stigmatized by the separation of immigrant children from their parents as the result of government policy. These are blessed innocents who were born with a beauty and potential that will never be realized because the economic and political powers of the world do not consider their needs 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 security, health and safety.  Don’t let your own hidden prejudice dull your compassion. Hold those who support decisions that harm children accountable for their actions.

Suggested Reading

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

We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.
Nelson Mandela

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.
Kofi Annan 

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

Those kids inside who have been separated from their parents are already being traumatised. It doesn’t matter whether the floor is swept and the bed-sheets tucked in tight.
Senator Jeff  Merkley 

I saw chain link cages full of unaccompanied children. They sat on metal benches and stared straight ahead silently,
Representative Peter Welch