Friday, December 28, 2007

Feast Of The Holy Innocents

Matthew 18:1-7, 10-14

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling-blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling-block comes!

‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Daily Office Readings:

AM Psalm 2, 26; Isaiah 49:13-23; Matthew 18:1-14
PM Psalm 19, 126; Isaiah 54:1-13; Mark 10:13-16


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 and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Let us, indeed, remember in prayer the innocents who are being killed, abused, and exploited in our own times, for they are many.

As MadPriest says at the post on his site, which is well worth a visit to read the post in its entirety and see the pictures:

It is highly unlikely that the massacre of children reported in The Gospel Of Matthew ever took place (at least not to the extent claimed). However, this does not, in any way, alter the fact that today's festival is only surpassed in importance by the festivals of Jesus Christ himself. I fear that this will remain true until the Kingdom of God is completely realised on earth.


  1. MadPriest's post was brilliant brilliant brilliant.

    As is yours my dearest Mimi.

    Peace on earth.

  2. Actually I disagree with Mad Priest's contention that it is highly unlikely. Bethlehem was not a huge town at the time, and the number of children involved was likely small, and seemingly insignificant in the big picture of the history of the day. And it harmonises well with the brutal and fanatical insecurity of Herod the Great's character - we know that he had many members of his own family executed because he suspected them of plotting against him.

    About the other things in MP's post, I am of course in complete agreement.

  3. Tim, I don't know enough to get into the scriptural dispute of whether or to what extent the story of the slaughter of the innocents is literally true, or not. But it is surely true that innocents were slaughtered then, as they are now.

    It's the stories that hook me, not whether they happened exactly as described in the Bible. They're true in the sense of being eternal truths.

    Having said that, I emphasize that I am quite orthodox in my beliefs about the essentials of the faith.

  4. But it is surely true that innocents were slaughtered then, as they are now.

    Agreed. That's why I always insist on including the Coventry Carol in my Christmas gigs - it emphasises that the nativity story was not all tinsel and ho ho ho.

  5. Tim, I glad you do that. Think of it. St. Stephen's martyrdom and the feast of the Holy Innocents within days of Christmas. It's surely not all tinsel and merry.

  6. Mimi, right you are (I really liked your extended comments on same on the feast of St. Stephen) and you are inspiring me to work something about the Holy Innocents into my sermon for Sunday.

    That's as far as I have gotten, but I'll keep you posted, if I dare.

    Peace to you -- and to our poor world.

  7. Jane, please let me know. I would be so happy if I inspired someone. ;o)

  8. John, thank you for your kind words. I went to your site and came away with a heart broken in two.

    Lord, have mercy.
    Christ, have mercy.
    Lord, have mercy


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