The fourth day of Christmas is traditionally known as the Feast of the Holy Innocents. We remember the children who were slaughtered by Herod because the wise men tipped him off of a “King” that was born in Bethlehem. The Gospel for the day is a stark reminder that in this season of light, darkness is not far away.
The day reminds us that in a world where power and violence seem to prevail, even the birth of a baby can threaten an unjust ruler. What’s amazing, 2000 years later, the rule of Herod has been long gone, yet the kingdom of that baby, Jesus, is still around.
On this day, may we learn which kingdom we can ultimately trust.
Scriptures for the Day:
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 tyrants 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.
13 When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.”14 Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt.
15 He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt .
16 When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the male children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi.
17 This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:
18 A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and much grieving.
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she did not want to be comforted,
because they were no more.