Innocents Lost

I don't like today.

Today the Church remembers the hundreds, thousands? of little babies murdered by King Herod's guards.  The Holy Innocents.  I don't want to think about it.  In the standard modern way I'd rather just pretend it didn't happen or whitewash it in a concise and bleached sentence like in one of the many children's Bibles we've collected on our shelves over the years.  

But once in a while I let myself think.  I let myself think of the terrified screams coming from newborns and toddlers alike as they were ripped away from their homes.  The wailing of mothers whose emptiness is palpable in my throat.  Fathers, powerless to fight the evil of those brutal soldiers.  Perhaps they were begging, pleading, bargaining to protect their precious sons.  I wonder if there were those that fled the way Joseph and Mary did.  I wonder if they were caught because they didn't have a supernatural forewarning in an angelic dream.  I wonder if some of those mothers had heard why their little baby was being slaughtered and hated that little newborn King for the grief that He caused.  I wonder if they were forced to witness the murder and if they were allowed to bury their baby's body.  I wonder if some of those parents ever met Jesus when He was an adult, ministering to the masses.  Would He have known that His birth prompted the death of their baby boy?  Would they have?  I even wonder if some were so consigned to the evil of the time that they didn't put up a fight.  I wonder what I would do in that same situation and just in doing so my stomach turns to rock and I feel my throat close.

I am glad to be a part of a Church that recognizes the loss of these first little martyrs.  One that acknowledges the wrenching grief of a parent whose child has been murdered because of the selfishness of an adult.  At the same time, I'm not sure any of us really get it unless we've been through that unimaginable moment.  But the reality is that it's not over.  I think of the woman in China pinned to a bed, while her child is aborted within her.  I think of the mother in Africa who watches her children executed because they belong to the wrong race or tribe or religion.  I think of the parents whose children are sold to sex traffickers so that they can pay off their debt.  I think of the woman right here in our own nation who is pressured to kill the life within her lest the man who has planted that life abandon her.  I think of the man sobbing with grief because he is powerless to stop the dismemberment of his baby simply because the uterus is not his.  I think of the depth of grief of parents whose child was gunned down while in the supposed safety of a school.  I think of the adoptive parents whose children have figuratively been ripped from their families through surprise legal sanctions.  No, it is not over.  How many times today more innocents are lost because of selfishness, money, emotional scars, politics, and fear.  My heart can barely stand to think of it.    

After every baby I've had, my heart seems to become more aware of the suffering that exists in this world.  When I let myself, my heart feels like it is being squeezed by their pain.  I see their faces and I picture the sins being committed against these little ones.  I want to save them.  I want to rescue them and I don't know how.  My little attempts at donations to various charities and my haphazard prayers seem laughable in contrast to their hurt.  I want to do more and be more to them.  At the same time I know I am not their savior.  He is.  And I know that without Him leading me my efforts would be fruitless anyway.

I know what it is like to lose a child.  I have no idea what it must be like to have another person to blame for it.  I don't know if my heart would become angry and calloused in response but I know I am weak enough that it's a likely possibility.  But even in all of this ugliness, these heinous acts, I have hope.  I have to.  I have to believe that our Lord can bring beauty out of the indescribable ugliness.  I have to believe that these innocents rest in His heart and that they now know perfect freedom and joy the height of which we cannot even comprehend.  I don't know how people of good will can NOT believe that (and I know many who don't).  At the root it seems like it must be a terribly desolate system in which they live.  Truth be told, in reflecting on all of this I was starting to feel pretty hopeless myself.  It just seems that this life is so full of sorrow and misery.  For some, it is all they know.  It is just so very overwhelming and I left this post half written this morning because I could barely stand that I didn't have a sweet little wrap-up to the problem of suffering.  Something that said, see? It all makes sense now!  I want a neat and tidy theological snippet to help me wrap my brain around it all.  Then my friend Theresa just gifted me with this quote at the perfect time...

"The cries of slaughtered children, called so poetically the Holy Innocents, echo loudly through our time.  For those deeply committed to the cause of life this is a day of pilgrimage and prayerful reparation and fervent petition to end the slaughter of children in our own time... Christ's peace is not a passive state of dreamy harmony that one sees in living room paintings.  Christ's peace is the victory prize in a relentless conflict lasting until the end of the world - the day when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain."  - Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, Behold, He Comes: Meditations on the Incarnation

...and while that doesn't take away the pain or the grief or the unfathomable suffering that the innocent have endured throughout history, at the very least it gives us hope.  We MUST continue to work and pray for justice, especially for these little ones, while at the same time knowing that in this world, we will never find perfect justice.  True justice will not exist until the end of the world.  And then.  Then all things will be made right.  And meanwhile those innocent souls rest in Love Itself.  Those innocents are lost to us but they are found by Him.
And it is in that that I hope.

1 comment

  1. Wow Mary beautifully written, and so powerful. Thank you


Thank you for visiting and reading! I love hearing from readers so if a comment box on a post is turned off, it's because Blogger is terrible about filtering spam. If you'd like to send me a message, please use my contact page. Thank you!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.