Mt 2:13-18 Massacre Of The Innocent
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When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem was a very small village; a village not even labeled on most Roman maps. It’s possible that not even fifty families lived there. And of all these families, only a few would have had multiple children under the age of two. It is estimated that the number of children slaughtered by Herod’s forces would have been around twenty or thirty, not hundreds as depicted in some movies or paintings.
In past years, some people (including theologians) claimed that Matthew may have “exaggerated” the number of children murdered by calling it a “massacre”. After all, massacres are supposed to be reserved for hundreds of children.
But that was before Columbine, Colorado; Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania; and Red Lake Senior High School. That was before twenty children were murdered in Newton. We had no problem calling it a massacre, for indeed it was. Yes, massacres can happen in small towns and with a small number of children. In fact, it seems like they only happen in small and quiet towns and with only a few children.
But let’s not fool ourselves; there are many ways to massacre children. Physically, sexually and spiritually are just a few. We can massacre their innocence as well, and we have been massacring children at a large scale now for years and in ways we never did centuries ago.
Christmas list. What’s on the Christmas list for English children age’s three to twelve? A lot of things, according to a recent survey, but what caught everyone’s attention was what made it to the number one spot. A study of 2,000 British parents found most children will put a new baby brother or sister at the top of their Christmas list.
A baby sibling!
In tenth place came an even more bizarre request: a daddy.
A “daddy” actually beat out an iPad, toy and pet.
Of course all these kids have a daddy. Unfortunately, most mommies didn’t think he would be important.
What we will do for ourselves! What we won’t do for others!
I know there are exceptions to everything. I know that. But let’s get real. We have massacred our children by desecrating the institutions of marriage and family. We have turned them into privileges reserved for a lucky few rather than essential rights reserved for all!
We all know that parent’s have the legal right to divorce. They demanded it a while back and got it put into law. It’s now their “right”.
Yet it is the children that pay the ultimate price for divorce, not parents. Parents can move on. Children must be dragged along.
In today’s first reading, St. John reminds the early Christian community that there are three attitudes they can have towards their sins: they can deny their sins; they can deny their very existence; or they can admit them and receive forgiveness.
What do you do?
Let’s choose carefully. Let’s choose to be humble and wise. Let’s admit our guilt and seek forgiveness. Otherwise, we are more than capable of doing as Herod did! Yes, like so many that have gone before us, when we deny sinning we deny its very existence. When we deny sin we lie, and when we lie, we can justify just about anything.
Herod justified his crime by accusing the Magi of lying! How’s that from the ultimate hypocrite!
When we deny sin, we open wide the means to sin again and open ourselves up to committing the next massacre….undoubtedly, of children.