It is customary in churches that follow a liturgical calendar to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents on Dec. 28. It is the commemoration of the terror of Herod the King ordering that all the male children, under the age of 2, in the area of Bethlehem be killed. He did this to make sure that any newborn who might be pretender to his throne would be done away with. Of course, Joseph, having been warned by an Angel immediately left and went into Egypt. This is in the Gospel of Matthew 2:13-15.
I always thought it odd that we called that day a Feast Day. It certainly wasn’t an event to be celebrated with a feast. But I suppose the purpose is to remember that the political system of the day was awful, and full of the horrors of absolute power, by a ruler full of jealousy of anyone who might put him off his throne. But celebrating those deaths wasn’t the idea. The thought was to remember the sacrifice of those innocents at the time of the birth of the Messiah. So, to this day, on 12-28 we remember those murdered children.
On Sunday the 17th we remembered some others, children who for no fault of their own have been murdered. Five years ago 20 were killed at Sandy Hook School. It was a tragedy that scarred many and left full families as perpetual victims of gun violence. In an episode like that the dead are buried, but those who continue on remain as victims.
We pray for them, the living and the dead. It is the least we can do. Eleven days later we will pray for those who were the victims of violence 2,017 years ago, or so. It is what we do. We will also busy ourselves praying for the victims of gun violence in more than 1,500 other incidents since Sandy Hook.
God help us find a way to stop the carnage. Amen
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to email@example.com.