A friend of mine remarked that today is” one of the saddest feast of the Christian year, just to remind us of one aspect of the world God accepted to come and inhabit…”
The feast of the Holy Innocents invites Christians to go beyond the standard definition of “voluntary acceptance of death for faith.” We should continue to celebrate the exceptional figures who make the free and conscious decision to give their life. Yet the Holy Innocents reminds us of the majority of peoples, especially children, who have been and continue to be victims of war, violence, and poverty. The persons who make the free and conscious decision to give of self in the following of Jesus together with the victims of the world entreat us to take reality seriously and to engage the world.
The Figures Linked with the Feast of Christmas: the Holy Innocents
[Tegel Prison, Berlin, Christmas 1944]
The holy innocents. The children of Bethlehem. They too have a place here. They share the scene with our Lord. And the mystery of the words “all this happened—because the Lord came,” applies particularly to them. They were martyred because of the power of a frightened and insane tyrant—that is made quite clear. And we see how completely all life is in the possession of our Lord. It is not mere pious sentiment to call the Child kyrios. Our concept of God must retain its grandeur and become firmer. Then the love we profess will also be strong, effective, reliable.
The mystery of the innocents is that they are the victims. The divine eagle gathered them as booty to himself. The blow aimed by the tyrant at our Lord fell on them instead. They serve as a kind of guard of honor to the divine child—and the militant dialogue between God and anti-God in which they are caught up earns them heaven. But we have loss our awareness of that ceaseless duel—we so little realize that we have a share in the struggle that we ignore it completely. Yet no one can escape responsibility and at any moment God, exercising his sovereign power, may draw us into the thick of it. So far as an adult is concerned this can only lead to salvation if the victim voluntarily accepts the combat and enters into God’s side. But in the case of the innocents the manger sealed their fate and was sacrifice. That is their mystery.
And it is also their message and judgment. We have become insensitive to the sovereignty of God. Even where awareness of it still exists a clear-cut concept of the relationship and of the order to which it belongs is lacking. The God under whose inexorable law we exist has ben dissolved in a mist of psychological outpourings, subjective living conditions or collective existential needs. This is one of the worst evils of our time.
[excerpt from The Prison Meditations of Father Delp]