Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs
Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents. When King Herod realized that he had been deceived by the Magi, he ordered the destruction of all male children in and around Bethlehem, two years old and younger. According to Matthew, this fulfilled an oracle from the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.”
Should we think it was cruel of God to give such a prophecy to Jeremiah? Should we blame God for making the destruction of innocent children part of his plan for the mission of his Son on earth? Of course not, although it may sometimes seem that way. But, if we believe in a God of supreme justice, then we have a right to expect that God will, somehow, make it up to those Holy Innocents, even despite their untimely death.
It should be clear to all how, for Christians, there is more to life than what passes on this Earth. The greatest and highest good for a human being is not the preservation and extension and enjoyment of life on this Earth, otherwise, why would we celebrate the Holy Innocents?
God does not directly will evil. He foresees it, he sometimes permits it, and he has the power to draw good out of it, even out of the death of the innocent. Today is a feast day in the Church because God brought good, even out of Herod’s wicked slaughter. We are celebrating the lives and the deaths of these young people, whom God has rewarded with the highest good, himself. May we ever seek that same Good.