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On Remembering When the Little Ones Suffer
The Feast of Holy Innocents (Year A)
Old Testament: Jeremiah 31:15-17
Psalter: Psalm 124
Epistle: Revelation 21:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18
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.
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the magi (Matthew 2:16).
The Feast of the Holy Innocents, also known as the Feast of the Holy Children or Childermas, is a Christian holiday that commemorates the massacre of the male children in Bethlehem by King Herod the Great, as told in the New Testament. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Herod ordered the killing of all boys under the age of two in an attempt to eliminate the newborn Jesus, whom he saw as a rival for the throne. The Feast of the Holy Innocents is observed on December 28th in the Western Christian tradition and on December 29th in the Eastern Christian tradition.
The Feast of the Holy Innocents is a solemn day of remembrance for the innocent children who were killed. It is also a day of reflection on the theme of innocence, and on the ways in which children are vulnerable in the world. In some traditions, it is also a day for charitable works and for supporting children in need.
While the Feast of the Holy Innocents is not as widely observed as some other Christian holidays, it has a rich history and continues to be an important day of commemoration for many Christians around the world.
PRAYER: Righteous God, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ dwelt among us and shared our grief and our pain. We pray for the children of our world, that they may grow up knowing love and security. We pray for all children who suffer physical or mental abuse. We pray for all communities in our world who live with the memories of massacre and gross cruelty. We pray for all who are corrupted by power and who regard human life as cheap. We pray for parents who have suffered the death of a child. We pray for parents and guardians, that they may be given grace to care for the children entrusted to them.
As we celebrate the coming of the Christ-child, we rejoice in the fellowship of the Holy Innocents and commit the children of this community, nation and our world to you, our righteous God.
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