Yesterday we observed the Feast of the Holy Innocents. You can read all about it in Matthew, chapter 2. What an odd event to observe right after the joy of Christmas. You might wonder about all these feasts of martyrs coming right after the joyful celebration of Jesus’ birth. It has to do with remembering those who gave up everything, including their lives, because of Jesus, the one who gave up his life for ours. It’s a reminder that being a Christian is serious business, joy filled, but serious just the same.
Maybe that’s not a bad thing. As we approach the New Year with it’s resolutions to do better in 2016 than we did in 2015, we might want to reflect on the Holy Innocents of our own day.
In the case of the Bethlehem infant males, there were not very many, and given the murderous cruelty of Herod, who would notice? Herod had killed so many, a few more children would not get much attention. The point is that the children were innocent. They had nothing to do with Herod, or even with Jesus. They were just there in Bethlehem when all hell broke loose, and the soldiers killed them because of Jesus, leaving their bereaved parents to do what?
As we approach the end of the brutal year of 2015, and remember the Feast of the Holy Innocents, consider the scores of children killed by gun violence in our schools; the thousands of children killed by warfare in the Middle East (some by American hands); and the inhumanity toward children held as slaves or coerced into armies and the sex trade throughout the world. We, collectively, as human beings, have been guilty of repeating Herod’s callous sin for many centuries. We have done so in our own time, and in our own communities. Some have done so in their own families.
As Christians, how shall we respond? What shall we do? My own congregations have a history of working for children in need through dedicated funds and volunteer outreach. It’s a wonderful start. What else can and should we be doing as individuals and as the body of Christ? Give it some prayerful thought. And remember, when children were brought to Jesus, he embraced them, blessed them, and said that of such is the kingdom of heaven.