I missed Holy Innocents Day on December 28, which commemorates King Herod’s slaughter of the infants of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18) in a vain attempt to kill the Christ child! This has become a day in the church year to reflect on the evil of abortion in our time.
I came across a thought-provoking article on the subject in the Catholic World Report. The author, Peter Stravinskas, makes connections between the rage of Herod and the rage of pro-abortion advocates. He makes good use of quotations from the fifth century bishop of Carthage Quodvultdeus, a disciple of Augustine.
From Peter M. J. Stravinskas, The Holy Innocents and the Church’s pro-life witness:
Quodvultdeus. . . addresses a question to the absent Herod:
Why are you afraid, Herod, when you hear of the birth of a king? He does not come to drive you out, but to conquer the devil. But because you do not understand this you are disturbed and in a rage, and to destroy one child whom you seek, you show your cruelty in the death of so many children.
Of course, for decades now, the Church in the United States has seen in the Holy Innocents the forerunners of the millions of babies slaughtered through legalized abortion in this country since 1973. As we have protested against this monstrosity and blight on our national character, have we not all witnessed the fear and rage of those ensnared in the culture of death? But why such rage? The vast majority of pro-lifers offer a kindly protest. The rage is born of insecurity, no doubt, because – deep-down – everyone knows the truth of what is happening in the abortion clinics and everyone knows – deep-down – that Our Lord was right in asserting that “the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Dr. Bernard Nathanson came to the right conclusion, after years of aborting thousands of children, bringing him to produce the very appropriately-titled film, The Silent Scream. . . .Quodvultdeus reproached Herod:
You are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the children. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself. . . .
Quodvultdeus ends his homily thus:
To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.
So why are pro-abortion advocates so angry? Like Herod, they are angry because they are afraid. They are afraid of the possibility, indeed the likelihood, that the pro-lifers are right. That they are advocating the slaughter of innocents. And if they are, then their whole self-image of political righteousness falls apart and they are revealed as Herods. Talk about the privileged exercising their power against the marginalized. The pro-abortion faction cannot abide this. So their fear turns to anger and they lash out.
But perhaps that fear can be turned to repentance, which can be turned to faith in that Christ child, who, when He grew up, atoned for the guilt even of His slayers and offered them forgiveness.
Illustration: “Slaughter of the Innocents” [study, 18th century] after Nicolas Poussin [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons