Today marks the remembrance of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, the children killed by order of King Herod when he learned of the birth of Christ. The Church has historically considered these children to be the first martyrs; they died not only for Christ, but in his stead (St. Augustine). Remembering the slaughter of these infants at Christmastime shocks our modern sensibilities. Christmas is suppose to be happy happy happy! And yet, the wisdom of our fathers in the faith bids us not to forget that evil still encroaches upon joy, Satan is active. However, as my friend Zach notes, despite Herod’s efforts, that Gospel was not — and will not be — destroyed.
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen