Feast of the Holy Innocents
The Feast of the Holy Innocents remembers the massacre of young male children under 2 years old in Bethlehem by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus. He did this to ensure that the infant Messiah, sought by the Magi, would be unable to displace him on his throne. This is why Saint Joseph was told in a dream to take the Child and the Blessed Virgin and flee to Egypt to escape the persecution of King Herod.
Below are excerpts from Pope Francis’ 2017 letter to bishops on the Feast of the Holy Innocents:
“In these days we experience how the liturgy leads us to the heart of Christmas, into the Mystery which gradually draws us to the source of Christian joy….
Christmas is also accompanied, whether we like it or not, by tears. The Evangelists did not disguise reality to make it more credible or attractive. They did not indulge in words that were comforting but unrelated to reality. For them, Christmas was not a flight to fantasy, a way of hiding from the challenges and injustices of their day. On the contrary, they relate the birth of the Son of God as an event fraught with tragedy and grief.
To contemplate the manger also means to contemplate this cry of pain, to open our eyes and ears to what is going on around us, and to let our hearts be attentive and open to the pain of our neighbours, especially where children are involved. It also means realizing that that sad chapter in history is still being written today. To contemplate the manger in isolation from the world around us would make Christmas into a lovely story that inspires warm feelings but robs us of the creative power of the Good News that the Incarnate Word wants to give us. The temptation is real.”
Learn about all the feast days of the Christmas season and ways to celebrate at archseattle.org/Christmas.