A Feast For Today's Victims

Holy Innocents - Christmastide

Fourth Day in the Octave

1 Jn. 5:5-2:2 & Mt. 2:13-15

Herod was a cruel, ruthless and selfish king. He would let no one interfere with his plans. He was a past master at the art of assassination. As soon as he had come to the throne he began to annihilate members of the Sanhedrin and later slaughtered 300 court officers. His own family did not escape his murderous plots, not his wife Miriam and her mother Alexandria, nor three of his sons, Antipater, Alexander and Aristobulous. And to make sure that the nation would mourn at the time of his death, he arranged for notable men of Jerusalem to be murdered the moment his own death was announced.

Being the man he was it is not surprising that when men from the East came looking for the new King, born to be King of the Jews, Herod should carefully inquire where he was to be born and when they had seen the star. All the time he was craftily working out how to murder Him. When he had this information he gave orders that every child under two years of age in Bethlehem and the surrounding district should be slaughtered. Thank God Bethlehem was not a very large town. And we may estimate the number of babies as not exceeding thirty. But just think of the heartache and anguish he caused those mothers and fathers.

While we commemorate with reverence these innocent babies who unknowingly gave their lives for Christ, we recall with grief the millions of unborn babies who are slaughtered in abortion clinics every year in our country and throughout the world.

Today is a day of prayer for the pro-life movement. We pray for those countries that make laws that fail to respect the right to life from the moment of conception. How can anyone morally accept laws that permit the killing of a human being not yet born, but already alive in the mother's womb? The right to life is not the exclusive prerogative of adults who manipulate politicians to pass the immoral law of abortion in order to pursue their own interests. There is one thing I cannot and will never understand, and that is, how intelligent people can claim that life in the womb is not a person, whatever other name they use. For when does a babe in the womb become a person? After 12 weeks, 15 weeks, or after 24 weeks? How ridiculous! A person’s life begins from the moment of conception. Abortion is murder and it is one of the greatest crimes of our day.

Animals and birds, like tigers, polar bears and eagles are proclaimed as endangered species. Do we ever hear of governments proclaiming that life in the womb is sacred and must never be endangered? Nevertheless, in the last few decades there have been some consoling signs of respect for life from the first moment of conception as "Pro-life" movements begin to spread offering a leaven of hope for the future of the family and of all humanity.

St. Pope John Paul II recognized that respect for life is an integral part of the Gospel that we are called to believe and proclaim. Every Christian is called to be unconditionally pro-life and to proclaim this Gospel by word and deed. Every Christian is also called to proclaim God’s mercy and love, helping to reconcile sinners to God and the Church.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Abortion is the great destroyer of peace in the world today. If a mother can kill her own child what is left to prevent us from killing each other? There is nothing.”

I am sure all those innocent children who have been aborted share this feast. I am confident that they are praying for their mothers - may God help them to heal the wounds.

Heavenly Father, today we pray for those women who for various reasons, whether pressurized or through selfishness or for social reasons, have had abortions, and were scarred for life but who are truly repentant. We pray too for those who perform abortions, that they may see the harm they do. May God, who is the author of life, give us a reverence for all life. Let us pray with Jesus, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”