“A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children…” (Matthew 2:18).
Today's Feast of the Holy Innocents, illustrated here by Giotto, lies in stark contrast to Christmas Day. The joy of celebrating the birth of our saviour is punctuated by several reminders of the consequences of following Christ.
Saints Stephen and Thomas a Becket on the second and fifth days of Christmas remind us that to follow Him means giving witness, even, if called to do so by shedding of blood. The Holy Innocents are revered as martyrs even though, unlike Saints Stephen and Thomas they were not old enough to know or assent to Christ.
It seems a mystery how children murdered by King Herod before the age of reason can be martyrs but I trust in the Church's tradition and wisdom. It is a reminder that those whom suffer for Christ or His Church do give witness to Him in a powerful way.
There is an irony that King Herod's actions in destroying these young lives in his thirst for power is mirrored so much today by those who out of a desire for popularly or power refuse to speak out for the unborn child.
It occurs to me that the Herods of today are the politicians - and those who vote for them - who refuse to defend life - and those laypeople, religious, priests and nuns who chose not to take a stand for life.
What can an individual do to save innocent life today? We can pray, we can investigate the policies of charities and politicians before supporting them and we can give generously to organisations such as the Good Counsel Network who do so much to support pregnant women in difficulty.
May the Holy Innocents pray for all innocent children, born or unborn, who are facing danger or death and may the hearts and minds of today's Herods be converted to Christ.