The Holy Innocents, Martyrs


1 John 1:5-2:2
Matthew 2:13-18


I wonder if Mary and Joseph, or Jesus himself sat and talked around the table about his birth as he was growing up, and as an adult with them also.  And were Joseph and Mary heartbroken by the memories of the men and women, the parents and children screaming in terror as Herod’s soldiers swept through Bethlehem, slaughtering every child under the age of four?  Were they haunted by the knowledge that it was because of their son that so many were senselessly and cruelly murdered? Did Jesus have any memories of a life spent in Egypt, he, and others, just a couple more refugees and foreigners in a strange country?

How familiar, so sadly, such scenes are still around. Children and frightened parents fleeing before the bombs and shells in Ukraine, watching their villages firebombed in Myanmar; children kidnapped and sold into slavery in Sudan, trafficked to be abused -2000 this year in Nigeria alone.  I often hear these echoes of sorrow when we pray the Holy Holy Queen – “to thee do we cry poor banished children, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears” 

“This valley of tears”: this world of ours where so many parents weep for their children, so many frightened children calling out for their mothers.  

How much God must love us, to send down his only son to share this valley of tears; sending down his only Son so that his tears might water this earth of ours, and so it might become again the garden God created it to be.  

If only Christmas peace and goodwill could be every day and not just once a year.

Fr Tom McDonough CP  is the current provincial superior of Holy Spirit province.