Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents and it is one of the most heart wrenchingly relevant of all of the church’s feasts.
With great and terrible irony we see in the slaughter of the Holy Innocents the wrath of the world against the gift of God.
God gives the gift of his Son–an innocent infant. Herod–the King of this world slaughters the infants. God gives us the gift of the Holy Family. Herod killed his own sons and wives. So the powers of this world attack and destroy the Holy Family.
God comes to us as an infant within a family and so he still comes to us within our families. That is where we learn to love. That is where we learn to treasure other immortal souls. That is where love lives and God lives because whoever lives in love lives in God and God lives in them.
Therefore, Satan hates the family. He hates children. He hates husbands. He hates wives. He wants to kill children. He wants to break families. He wants brothers to kill brothers, mothers to kill children and fathers to kill their wives. He wants to break, smash and destroy families. He has hated families from the beginning when he saw the blissful love of Adam and Eve. So he broke that love and the violent cycle began when their son became the first murderer.
So the violence and demonic hatred of the family continues: The story is stunning and simple in its terror: King Herod’s throne and dynasty is threatened by the possibility that the real King of the Jews has been born. Remember that Herod was an imposter. A foreign and from a convert family, he assumed the throne and made himself the King of the Jews. In a bald attempt to consolidate and conserve his power, prestige, prosperity and pleasure he slaughtered every boy two years and younger in the Bethlehem area.
Modern Biblical skeptics dispute the historicity of the story. They say this was fabricated to make Jesus seem like a second Moses: Moses was also saved from a cruel slaughter of the infants. Moses also came up out of Egypt. Furthermore, they see the reference in Matthew’s gospel to the fulfillment of prophecy and argue that Matthew or whoever it was who wrote the gospel made it all up. They argue that there are no historic references to the slaughter so it must not have happened. This article explains the personality of Herod the Great and argues that if he murdered three of his sons and one of his wives and various others in order to defend his throne, dynasty and memory it would have been completely consistent with his behavior to have murdered children. Furthermore, the population of Bethlehem at the time was very small and it is likely that the number of children killed was no more than about 20 or 30. In a cruel and genocidal age this was not noteworthy.
What is more important is to consider Herod’s motives. Continue Reading