The story of the Holy Innocents shocks us, and so it should. How could anyone have committed such a monstrous crime? But maybe the better question is, where do I see similar things today? In Our Lord’s time, just as today, children were among the most vulnerable and abused people in the world. In some places and cultures, they are considered almost as disposable today as they were two thousand years ago.
But how disposable are they? Well, we have only to think of the scourge of abortion to get a glimpse. And of those children who are born, millions are trapped in grinding poverty, denied their basic rights to food and shelter and education. Many are forced into hard labour, or conscripted into rebel armies. Consider also those who are homeless, trafficked, or abused.
But it’s Christmas, aren’t we supposed to be celebrating Our Lord’s Nativity, not lamenting the death of children? Today’s feast reminds us that the baby in the manger lived his whole life under the shadow of the Cross. And he did it by choice. Coming among us as a vulnerable child, Jesus embraced the distressing and uncomfortable elements of life in this world. He became a displaced child, a refugee fleeing with his parents to escape violence and death.
Our Lord knows all that we suffer. But he is always with us, especially when we are confronted with darkness, both in the world and in our own hearts.
Jesus knows. He embraces it all. He weeps with us. And he asks us to go out and share this compassion with everyone we meet.