Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28)   Leave a comment

Above:  A Coin of Herod the Great



Jeremiah 31:15-17 (New Revised Standard Version):

(A prophesy of the return of exiles)

Thus says the LORD:

A voice is heard in Ramah,

lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;

she refuses to be comforted for her children,

because they are no more.

Thus says the LORD:

Keep your voice from weeping,

and your eyes from tears;

for there is a reward for your work, says the LORD:

they shall come back from the land of the enemy;

there is hope for your future, says the LORD:

your children shall come back to their own country.

Psalm 124 (New Revised Standard Version):

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side

–let Israel now say–

if it had not been the LORD who was on our side,

when our enemies attacked us,

then they would have swallowed us up alive,

when their anger was kindled against us;

then the flood would have swept us away,

the torrent would have gone over us;

then over us would have gone

the raging waters.

Blessed be the LORD,

who has not given us

as prey to their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird

from the snare of the fowlers;

the snare is broken,

and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the LORD,

who made heaven and earth.

Revelation 21:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

I  saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

See, the home of God is among mortals.

He will dwell with them as their God;

they will be his peoples,

and God himself will be with them;

he will wipe every tear from their eyes.

Death will be no more;

mourning and crying and pain will be no more,

for the first things have passed away.

And the one who was seated on the throne said,

See, I am making all things new.

Also he said,

Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.

Then he said to me,

It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Matthew 2:13-18 (New Revised Standard Version):

When the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,

Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet,

Out of Egypt I have called my son.

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah,

wailing and loud lamentation,

Rachel weeping for her children;

she refuses to be consoled, because they are no more.

The Collect:

We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Life consists in part of a series of hardships and injustices.  Sometimes we dodge bullets.  Other times we do not.  This day we ponder those who do not dodge the bullets, literally or figuratively, and pay with their lives.

Herod the Great (reigned 37-4 B.C.E.) was a client king.  He governed part of the Roman Empire for the Emperor Tiberius, who was not a nice man, either.  Herod, founder of a dynasty of client kings, sat insecurely on his throne, attempting to assuage the religious class by expanding the Second Temple while ordering the deaths of people ranging from his family members to strangers.  So the Magi (Persian astrologers/astronomers/scholars/priests/diplomats) who followed protocol and arrived at his palace to ask for directions (G.P.S. would not exist for about 2000 years.) set in motion accidentally a chain of events which led the deaths of baby boys.  Yet Jesus and his family were safely out of the way, presumably at the Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt,

May we remember all those who die due to no fault of their own.  They were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time, or they were inconvenient for another person.  So injustice occurred again.  And may we remember all who continue to suffer in these ways and for those reasons.  Let us dedicate ourselves to ending such injustice properly.



Posted June 5, 2010 by neatnik2009 in December

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