On the Feast of the Holy Innocents

On the Feast of the Holy Innocents December 28, 2019


I just want to take today to tell you that it is not your fault.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Our church has one of those. To me, this is one of those signs that the Holy Ghost is present here: as cruel as she can be to people who have suffered horrendously, she still has, on her calendar, a day called the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

It refers, specifically, to the children in Bethlehem who were murdered by Herod, who surely told himself that he was doing what he had to to prevent an uprising. He sent his soldiers to kill every child under the age of two, and they slaughtered babies and toddlers, surely telling themselves they were just following orders.  He committed genocide in the hope that he could kill off the Christ child before it was too late, but He didn’t. It wasn’t Christ’s time to die yet. He came back to die with all of those Holy Innocents and to bear their passion as His own decades later, after He had accomplished all that was His to do. He does not abandon anyone, you see. Sometimes the realization of how He hasn’t abandoned takes a very long time, but when a person suffers, He is there. He suffers with them. He bears witness to the suffering. He knows the truth and who is at fault, and someday the whole world will know.

The babies killed in Bethlehem are known as the first Christian martyrs. They weren’t Christians, of course; they were probably mostly Jews and whoever else happened to have the bad luck to be in Bethlehem at the time. They weren’t proclaiming Christ; most of them couldn’t even speak. They weren’t boldly standing up for anything important; most of them couldn’t even stand. They were before the age of reason and didn’t know good from evil. But an evil man who was trying to destroy Christ sent an army of men who didn’t care if they were evil and didn’t care who they destroyed to kill them, and for that, they are honored as martyrs.

From this we know, because our Church has taught us, that if an evil person who was determined to kill Christ, or people who don’t care if they’re evil and don’t care if they’re killing Christ, destroys a victim, that that victim is a martyr– holy, innocent, heroic, honored by the Lord as a saint.

Here is something else we know: whatsoever we do to the least of His brethren, we do to Christ. Christ Himself said that. To believe the Gospel is to believe that you can’t help a human being without helping Christ, and you can’t hurt a human being without hurting Christ. Whether we know it like Herod or don’t care like the soldiers Herod sent, what we do to others is what we do to Christ.

If these things are true, and I believe and profess they are true, I fail to see how any victim of abuse is not a Holy Innocent.

And so, I’m taking the feast of the Holy Innocents to tell you: it isn’t your fault. You couldn’t have stopped it. You weren’t doing anything wrong. You were going to school or studying for your First Holy Communion, going to confession, on the playground, in the dormitory, or just minding your own business somewhere else. You trusted people you ought to have been able to trust, people who had a special duty to honor you as the child of God you are. And those people committed a grievous sin. They either fully knew they were destroying Christ, or they did not care if they were destroying Christ, when they did what they did to you.

Maybe they even thought they were doing a good thing. Herod thought he was preventing an uprising, after all. But God sees the truth.

God looks at you. He sees you unable to sit with the congregation in church. He sees you panicking with claustrophobia at the thought of a confessional. He sees you unable to stand the thought of praying a Rosary or looking at a certain image. He sees your eating disorder, your panic disorder, your nightmares, your insomnia. He sees that some of you are completely unable to view Him as good, or believe that He could exist at all. He sees that others of you blame yourselves for this and haven’t a clue that it isn’t your fault. He sees that some of you view yourself as something evil and demonic for feeling the way that you do.

But God sees the truth. He sees that you are a Holy Innocent, a martyr, someone heroic, someone He Honors.

He comes back and suffers your passion with you.

Someday, I promise you, the whole world will see who was Herod and who was Christ. And many who said to Him, “Lord, Lord,” will be Herod. Many who were so severely hurt that they could not stand to walk into a church anymore will be Christ.

This is your feast– our feast.

This is the day when, in spite of herself, by the grace of the Holy Ghost, the Church tells us that it isn’t our fault.

It isn’t your fault.

You aren’t to blame.

You are a Holy Innocent.

(image via Pixabay)





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