FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS, MARTYRS
The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless,
they follow the Lamb and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord.
Today, the Church celebrates the memory of the small children of the neighborhood of Bethlehem who were put to death by Herod, who was seeking to kill Jesus. These innocent victims bear witness to Christ to a world which would not receive Him.
The Latin Church instituted the feast of the Holy Innocents at a date now unknown, not before the end of the fourth and not later than the end of the fifth century. The feast is kept within the octave of Christmas because the Holy Innocents gave their life for the newborn Savior.
O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in you which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
Below you have the 2nd reading of today’s Liturgy of the Hours which is worth the read and meditation.
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+++READING STARTS HERE+++
A sermon of St Quodvultdeus
Even before they learn to speak, they proclaim Christ
A tiny child is born, who is a great king. Wise men are led to him from afar. They come to adore one who lies in a manger and yet reigns in heaven and on earth. When they tell of one who is born a king, Herod is disturbed. To save his kingdom he resolves to kill him, though if he would have faith in the child, he himself would reign in peace in this life and for ever in the life to come.
Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.
You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself.
Yet your throne is threatened by the source of grace, so small, yet so great, who is lying in the manger. He is using you, all unaware of it, to work out his own purposes freeing souls from captivity to the devil. He has taken up the sons of the enemy into the ranks of God’s adopted children.
The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself. See the kind of kingdom that is his, coming as he did in order to be this kind of king. See how the deliverer is already working deliverance, the Saviour already working salvation.
But you, Herod, do not know this and are disturbed and furious. While you vent your fury against the child, you are already paying him homage, and do not know it.
How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.
℟. They worshipped him who lives for ever and ever,* and laid their crowns before the throne of the Lord their God.
℣. They fell on their faces before the throne, and blessed him who lives for ever and ever,* and laid their crowns before the throne of the Lord their God.
PHOTO CREDIT AND SOURCE: William Holman Hunt – The Triumph of the Innocents in http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Cu6gHdBZnNM/UFIVjDq6JiI/AAAAAAAANo4/oFKyR4LygVo/s1600/William+Holman+Hunt+-+The+Triumph+of+the+Innocents.jpg