When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Matthew 2:16
Today on the fourth day of the Octave of Christmas, we are given a similar witness to the one we received on December 26, the Feast of the Martyrdom of St. Stephen. But today’s feast presents the same evil in a different and even more tragic light. Here, out of envy and hatred, Herod had countless innocent children killed in an attempt to eliminate Jesus, the newborn King.
We can only imagine the grief that would have filled the town of Bethlehem and its vicinity as the soldiers went through killing those innocent children as their parents watched helplessly. On one hand, it’s shocking to know that God permitted this. On the other hand, on a level of deep faith, we must strive to understand the witness that these innocent children gave.
Though this was an unspeakable crime and evil, from the perspective of eternity, it will be sorted out by God. In Heaven and forevermore, these innocent victims will wear the martyr’s crown and will be honored by the angels and saints as the first witnesses to the newborn King. Though this may not have eased the pain at the time, it will certainly transform the pain those families felt as they enter into the justice of Heaven.
Their witness reveals to us much about our own lives. It reveals that there are many times in life when things are simply not fair and not just. The massacre of these innocent children is a powerful reminder of this fact. But one thing we must hold on to is that God will right every wrong in the end. Today, we celebrate a solemn feast in the honor of these children as a way of saying that God has transformed this tragedy into something glorious.
The same is true with each one of us. Whatever your “tragedy” may be, know that the Son of God entered our world, taking on our fallen human nature, so that He could make all things right.
Reflect, today, upon that which is most painful for you this Christmas season. Whatever it may be, you are invited to unite your hurt and pain today with the sorrow of the families who lost these little ones. Let God do for you what He ultimately did for all of them. Let His Incarnation, death and Resurrection transform your hurt into a crown of martyrdom. In the end, the Lord will be victorious in your life if you let Him.
Lord, I surrender all hurt, pain and confusion to You. I unite myself, this day, with the sorrow of those who lost these little children and I trust that their lives, as they reign now in Heaven with You, are a sign for me of things to come. Your birth into our world was the greatest sign that You are our Savior and that You can turn all things into good. Jesus, I entrust my life to You and know that You will right every wrong. Jesus, I trust in You.
Feast of the Day – Holy Innocents, Martyrs