Thursday, December 28, 2017

December 28 - The Holy Innocents

+ The Holy Innocents were the boy children of Bethlehem and its vicinity who were put to death not because of Christ, but instead of Christ: thus, being the first New Testament persons to give their lives for him: thus making them the first martyrs of Christendom! All male children under the age of two were put to death when Herod became infuriated at being deceived by the Magi whom he sent to ascertain the whereabouts of the Child who was born King of the Jews: for he felt that his own throne was threatened by this newborn King. Anywhere from five to twenty-five children were taken from their mother’s and killed, in one account; but other accounts and observances from other rites in the Church list the number as 14,000 (in the Greek Liturgy for today), 64,000 in the Syrian Rite, and 144,000 of the Apocalyptic interpretation: [in any and every case] thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Jeremiah regarding “Rachel weeping for her children.”

The feast has been celebrated on this day in the West since the sixth century. They are depicted in art as children playing around God’s heavenly altar, with the crowns and palms that are their reward. They are also in a mosaic arch in the basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. In England their feast was called Childermas. They are the object of special veneration in Bethlehem where the Franciscans and children of the choir visit their altar under the Church of the Nativity and sing a hymn to their memory from the Divine Office.

May we always remember the sacrifices that were made by many to establish to the one true Church of Jesus Christ, beginning with the glorious martyrdom of these dear young children; may our sacrifices today on behalf of the Church and its continued spread be significant and loving, and also deserving of heavenly reward.

Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare!

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