“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.” // Matthew 2:18
Today we honor the Holy Innocents, the baby boys killed by order of Herod in his jealous rage at the newborn King of the Jews whom the magi sought. It can feel a bit . . . off somehow, right? Why does the Church, in Her wisdom, celebrate the sad story of the Holy Innocents as part of the Christmas octave?
Why will I be sitting by the tree today, sniffling to myself over the haunting fourteenth century “Coventry Carol”? This Christmas song isn’t about the baby Jesus, it’s a song sung by a mother to her baby, about to be murdered by Herod’s men.
Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
bye, bye, lully lullay.
Why all this at Christmas? Because the Holy Innocents hold a special distinction among all the Saints. They did not know Christ, they did not choose to die for Him, and yet, they did die for Him, and what’s more they died IN HIS PLACE, which is an extraordinary honor.
So today, we are sad for the cruelty and cowardice of King Herod. We are sad for the suffering of the families of those babies. We are sad for Christmas songs that make us tear up, but are too beautiful to turn off. But we rejoice for the Holy Innocents themselves, who were among the very first to enter Heaven.
The most beautiful and meaningful part of the story of these children is that they were mistaken for Jesus and killed in His place. That is truly the glory of their story. We should all strive to live in such a way that we, too, might be mistaken for Christ.The glory of their story. // Kendra Tierney Click To Tweet