Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the day in which we remember all the little boy babies in Bethlehem two year and under who were killed by King Herod as he sought for the child Jesus.
Herod ‘the Great’ was appointed King of the Jews by the Roman authorities in Palestine and he proved to be ruthlessly efficient in his thirty-three years of dealing with his subjects. In the Gospel according to Matthew, Herod tried to persuade the Magi, to whom he played host on their journey seeking the one ‘who has been born king of the Jews’, to bring word to him once they had found the child. His desire was to eliminate Jesus and, when he realised that the Magi had tricked him and left the country, Herod killed all the children under the age of two in and around Bethlehem. These were God’s ‘innocent’ ones, paralleling the story of Pharaoh slaughtering the Hebrew children in Egypt.
A READING FROM A SERMON OF QUODVULTDEUS, BISHOP OF CARTHAGE
A tiny child is born who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come.
Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.
You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their little ones, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.
Yet yoru throne is threatened by the source of grace – so small, and yet so great – who is lying in the manger. He is using you, all unaware of it, to work out his own purposes in freeing souls from captivity to the devil. He has taken up the children of the enemy into the ranks of God’s adopted children.
The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The children make of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to themselves. See the kind of kingdom that is his, coming as he did in order to be this kind of king. See how the deliverer is already working deliverance, the Saviour already working salvation.
But you, Herod, do noot know this and are disturbed and furious. While you vent your fury against the children, you are already paying them homage, and you do not know it. How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their little limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.
THE COLLECT FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS
Heavenly Father, whose children suffered at the hands of Herod, though they had done no wrong: by the suffering of your Son and by the innocence of our lives frustrate all evil designs and establish your reign of justice and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO STAND FOR LIFE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
Brothers and Sisters of Christ our Hope:
Today you will have an opportunity to participate in something most of you have never experienced before. We will celebrate a memorial Eucharist (kind of like a funeral/memorial service) for all of the little babies that have been murdered in the abortion mill in Kettering. This will not be an easy time of prayer physically, spiritually, and emotionally for anyone who chooses to participate. If you are not able to be present tomorrow, know that you will have another opportunity to do something when we observe Right to Life Sunday at church in late January.
So, today’s noon Eucharist, 28 December 2011, will not be at the church. We will observe the Feast of the Holy Innocents by celebrating a memorial Eucharist in front of the Kettering abortion mill. I talked to the manager of the Women’s Centre – Kettering (a Christian women’s clinic across from the abortion mill) this afternoon. She gave me information on what is legal and has opened up their resources to us tomorrow as well.
Please be at 1377 E. Stroop by at least 11:55 a.m. Parking is available around the right side of the building to the rear. You will see us setting up on the the sidewalk and legal side of the grassy strip. It is supposed to be rather cold tomorrow, so please come dressed appropriately. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me at 850-797- 6848.
In the Name of our newborn King!