A priest and performer considers religion, the arts, and the often thin space between sacred and secular, church and culture, pulpit and pew.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Fourth Day of Christmas: December 28 – The Holy Innocents

On the fourth day of Christmas, God’s true love gave to me…

…a grieving heart, moved to seek justice.

Herod the King, in his raging charged he hath this day
his men of might, in his own sight, all young children to slay.

Into the joy and good news of Christmas comes an unthinkable, violent event of tragic proportions – the slaughter of innocent young children at the hands of an amoral, paranoid megalomaniac. King Herod, fearing what the birth of another “King of the Jews” might mean for him and his position, attempts to do away with the threat. And since he was tricked by the magi (with the help of God’s angel), who might have identified a particular child, he doesn’t know which of any number of children this baby boy king might be. So he orders his soldiers to kill all of the young ones in Judea (Matthew 2:13ff).

Such slaughter should be unthinkable; yet we have seen it, and continue to see it, over and over and over. Whether in an intentional act by a deranged killer in a single situation and locale, or as collateral damage in an ongoing military conflict or an urban gang war, the deaths of innocent children confronts us every day. Rachel continues to weep for her children, and will not be comforted, because they are not: in the Crusades, the concentration camps, the refugee boats; at Mi Lai, Columbine, Sandy Hook; in Syria, Cambodia, Liberia, Chicago, Israel/Palestine. …

That woe is me, poor child for thee! And every morn and day,
For thy parting nor say nor sing bye-bye, lully lullay.

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