Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Herod the King

In his raging

Charged he hath this day

His men of might

In his own sight

All children young to slay

—Coventry Carol

Worldly power is very precarious. Intellects dim with age, and strength declines. Economies can fail, and money dry up. Political influence comes and goes. If all you seek in this life are things in this world, you cannot guard your possessions too carefully. This was certainly Herod’s thinking as he “ordered the massacre of all boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity”—as he ordered the murder of infants (Mt. 2:16). Herod saw that his power was so fragile that even children could pose a threat. As that was his overriding goal, responding to this threat with “raging” and sending “his men of might” makes sense.

Herod’s logic is sound, and yet we are horrified. His lust for power has yielded unspeakable carnage. Most of us do not live in monarchies, but there are many ways we can seek power and the things of this world. Careers, achievements, goals and ambitions for our lives and the lives of our loved ones—these are all things that can absorb us and cause us to do great harm to others. When we lie to get ahead, when we kick others to the curb, when we decide that someone else’s life—perhaps even a new child’s—is expendable in the face of our goals, we share in the logic of Herod. Herod’s logic is not foreign to us, he just takes it farther than we would prefer. And all the while, the King of Kings lays helpless and tightly swaddled, inviting us to sit with Him.

December 28th, 2017