Friday, December 28, 2012


Rachel Weeping- Salvador Dali

Today is the day we remember the HOLY INNOCENTS, the first martyrs for Christ.

Thus says the LORD: “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”  Jeremiah 31:15

The story of Herod the Great  and his infamous infanticide is a dark chapter in the story of the Nativity. The source of the story of this heinous crime is Matt. 2:13-23.
           When the wise men from the East failed to return to Jerusalem from Bethlehem to tell Herod about the new-born king, but, at the angel’s command, returned to their home another way, Herod was as furious as a wild beast, and commanded that all the children of two years and under in Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. This terrible command of the king's was carried out to the letter. His soldiers cut off some of the children's heads with their swords, dashed others on the stones, trampled some of them underfoot and drowned others with their own hands.

Alexey Pismenny

St Bede in his writings states that: we are dealing with Martyrs, and that in this death is represented the precious death of all Christ’s martyrs. The fact that little children were killed signifies that through the merit of humility one comes to the glory of martyrdom, and that unless one has turned and become as a little child, one will not be able to give one’s life for Christ. (St Bede)

Rose Marie Berger
Rachel will not bewail her children, but ‘God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’ (Revelation), and give them the voice of gladness and of eternal salvation in their tabernacles, he who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit for ages and ages. Amen. (St Bede)

Amid our holiday celebration we must stop to consider the Innocents in our time.  While infant mortality, worldwide, is down, war, famine, disease, and neglect still feed on the most vulnerable and most precious among us.  It is a sad fact, of course, that in our own time, more innocent children are murdered each day than ever before in history. In so far as we condone or tolerate this situation, we have all become Herods.

One of my favorite songs for the season is the haunting and lovely Coventry Carol which concerns the slaughter of the Innocents.

    Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
    By by, lully lullay, thou little tiny child,
    By by, lully lullay.

    O sisters too, How may we do
    For to preserve this day
    This poor youngling,
    For whom we do sing,
    By by, lully lullay?

    Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
    By by, lully lullay, thou little tiny child,
    By by, lully lullay.

    Herod, the King, In his raging,
    Charged he hath this day
    His men of might,
    In his own sight,
    All young children to slay.

    Lully, lulla, thou little tiny child,
    By by, lully lullay, thou little tiny child,
    By by, lully lullay.

    That woe is me, Poor child for thee!
    And ever morn and day,
    For thy parting
    Nor say nor sing
    By by, lully lullay!

While it is easy to get lost in the nightmare of what happened to the Innocents, it's to be remembered that they ultimately triumphed! They are the first Saints of Jesus Christ.

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