“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more”” (Matthew 2.16-18).
So the story goes! Imagine the parents wailing as the gruff soldiers slammed through their doors, cleared the houses, yanking up the frightened infants and startled toddlers from sleeping mats, out of mother’s arms, and away from dirt-floor homes. The crying sounds, blood and carnage spewing through the air, while helpless mothers and fathers are held back at spear point. What despair must have drowned their parental hearts!
In a strange way, these infants and toddlers, who had done no harm, made no grand displays of discipleship, are being identified with the Christ child, and already bearing their cross, denying themselves and following Jesus.
One wonders if this is not something of what is being played out at abortion clinics week after week! Because of our Lord’s incarnation and entrance into the world as an infant, where “thrones for a manger didst surrender, sapphire-paved courts for stable floor,” if abortion is not a Herod-like slaughter for the sake of securing power and wealth! If, maybe, the slain infants are being identified with “the little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay,” and so considered a threat to personal peace and affluence.
Where are the brokenhearted parents weeping with Rachel for the butchered children?
"We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of Your mercy all innocent victims; and by Your great might frustrate the designs of evil powers, tyrants, and those who take the lives of others unjustly, and establish Your rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen" (adapted & modified from the Book of Common Prayer-1979).