December 28 marks the Feast of the Holy Innocents, or “Childermas.” The feast commemorates infant boys in the Bethlehem area who were massacred by order of King Herod after he heard of Christ’s birth. Herod was so attached to his own power and glory that he was willing to sacrifice innocent children to preserve it. They are considered the first Christian martyrs.
For a haunting reflection on the feast, listen to “Coventry Carol,” an English Christmas carol traced back to the sixteenth century as part of a mystery play called “The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors.” In the song, mothers sing a sorrowful lullaby to their lost babies.
What a jolt! From celebrating a newborn baby to mourning the loss of others.
Unfortunately, evil persists. Our society continues to cast aside innocent children in selfish pursuits, whether it be through abortion, the marginalization of impoverished children, or the maltreatment of foster children.
Too often, our children are caught in the crosshairs of power-seeking adults.
Even in our own homes, so quickly we go from delighting in the Christmas-morning faces of our children to counting the days until school is back in session. From praising their Nativity pageant performance to excusing them from next week’s Mass. From spoiling them with treats and presents to New Year’s resolutions to tighten belts.
Too often, our children are like presents cast aside.
As we turn our attention towards the New Year, let us heed the message of the Feast of Holy Innocents and not let children become the victims of our selfish whims. Instead of focusing resolutions on climbing the ladder, let us instead stoop down to embrace the least among us. As their presents lose appeal, let us gift them with our presence and His presence.
Copyright 2017 Kayla Knaack