The Holy Innocents

Friends in the Lord, today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents.
The Holy Innocents are those children who were massacred by King Herod in his attempt to destroy the Child Jesus. We call these children ‘martyrs,’ because they died in the place of Christ; Jesus escaped, but their lives were taken. St. Augustine compares these tiny martyrs, to springtime buds on a tree: “They were the first buds,’ he says, ‘killed by the frost of persecution.
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People ask, how can God permit such evil: the death of those little, innocent children? St. Thomas Aquinas, and also St. Augustine say: God would not have allowed the massacre, if he did not plan to bring a benefit to those children.
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If there is no next life, then such tragedy is horrible and meaningless. But this is the point in Jesus’ coming: he has changed death into life. Christmas is about Jesus coming to win victory over death, for us. Those children are in heaven, interceding for us now. There can be no greater honor than to die for Christ. Death is laughed at by believers in Christ. We Catholics laugh at death. This is because we know that God will raise us up in the resurrection, he will renew all things. ‘Behold, I make all things new,’ says the Lord.
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My father had that inscription placed around the rim of my ordination chalice – it says: Ecce nova facio omnia: ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ The Holy Innocents are not dead, but alive. Their death was because of Jesus Christ, and so now they rejoice in victory with him.
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True story: A preacher read some liberal, fool-hardly book, and proceeded to say in a sermon that the death of the Holy Innocents was a myth, that the bible is just stories. As he walked out of the Church he fell down and broke both arms. Now this man’s friend, another ‘progressive thinker,’ the next year, preached the same thing; I tell you the truth: he too, broke both arms!
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I therefore will stand with the Holy Scriptures as true. Today we honor the Holy Innocents, as a bold affirmation, that death is only the beginning of life, and that despite the trials here below, we hope to one day praise God above.

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