Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

Holy Innocents

28th December 2020

What is “Holy Innocents?”  

The feast Holy Innocents is observed by Western churches on December 28. It is the day the Church commemorates the execution of the innocent, male children in Bethlehem as told in Matthew 2:16. That upon hearing of the birth of the King of the Jews – a threat to his rule and the fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy – Herod ordered the execution of all the male children in Bethlehem. The Church also identifies with those innocents who suffer other humans’ cruelty. 

The Old and New Testament passages for the day underlines the extent and causes unprecedented human cruelty.

Jeremiah 31:15-17 reads;

This is what the Lord says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
This is what the Lord says:
“Restrain your voice from weeping
and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,”
declares the Lord.
“They will return from the land of the enemy.
So, there is hope for your descendants,”
declares the Lord.

The New Testament Matthew 2:13-18 reads;

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” …
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.  Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.

These Bible passages underline the following;

  1. The bad news of how the human cruelty can get to unprecedented extent. King Herod “the Great” gave a history of great cruelty. On addition to killing innocent children in Bethlehem, history has it that he killed, his wife, his brother, and his sister’s two husbands. The Assyrians military was renowned for extreme cruelty upon those it defeated as depicted in Rachel weeping in Rama, for the massacre and deportation of her children and refusing to be comforted. Human cruelty continues to be witnessed in increasing numbers of planned abortions taking place in the world. 
  2. The main reason alluded to in these examples of human cruelty, is the sense of insecurity in those who have the power. Herod “the Great,” king of Judea, was unpopular with his people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference. Hence, insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne. The Assyrians massacred and deported their victims for fear that they may collude with enemies of Assyria. 
  3. Extreme human cruelty has been witnessed in human history of genocide, civil wars, tribal clashes, political violence and abortion of many innocent children not yet born for fear that the victims were a threat to some expected political, or economic or personal conveniences.  
  4. The good news of God’s arrangement for protection and end to human cruelty. God made arrangement for baby Jesus’ escape. God promised that the mourning in Rama will end and a return of God’s people to peace and prosperity. God arranged for the end of Jewish holocaust and of other human cruelties. No wonder, Jewish holocaust, Rwanda genocide and many massacres are now history.

“Dear God forgive any kind of our cruelty to others. Comfort and save those under human cruelty. Grant that all in power will honor you and trust you for their ultimate security for what they are and have”. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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