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The Holy Innocents
(entered heaven around the year 0)
I just read the e-newsletter you sent me with the article about your work with the pro-life student union. Quite commendable. I hope and pray that God grants you much success. I was a bit miffed by the interview beneath the article, however; the tone of the pro-life union president’s comments was much too militant for my taste. How can someone authentically defend the right to life of these innocent children by lashing out so caustically at the pro-choicers? To me it seems contradictory. Besides, the last thing we want to do is make the poor women who have had abortions (and there are plenty of them on college campuses, as I am sure you know) afraid to come back to Christ because of the harsh way we speak about and treat them. The devil would love that. No, we have to be firm and insistent, but never vicious.
Today’s feast has a particular relevance as regards your efforts to stem the abortion tide. Of course, the obvious connection is that both involve a tragic massacre of babies. But on a spiritual level, the parallel is much more harrowing. You remember why King Herod wanted to kill these children, don’t you? He had heard that a “King of the Jews” had been born in Bethlehem, and the Magi had explained that the star informing them of this fact had first appeared two years earlier. So when they made their way back home after adoring the Christ child, Herod sent his troops to the City of David to slay the dozens of baby boys who were under two years old, in order to ensure the death of the promised “king” (good thing Joseph and Mary had fled to Egypt with the baby Jesus, escaping the slaughter). You see, Herod was not a legitimate Jewish king; he was no descendant of David or Aaron. His parents had been forced converts, and he owed his kingship to Rome’s intervention. He knew that his claim to the throne was tenuous, and he didn’t want to risk the appearance of anyone whose claim may be more convincing.
But if you think about it, ever since Christ’s work of redemption was accomplished, everyone who is baptized into his Body is made a sharer in his Kingship. And anyone who is born is baptize-able. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the same evil forces behind Herod’s jealousy would, now in the Christian era, further a campaign to massacre all babies before they are born. It’s the same story – the enemies of Christ don’t want him to rule in anyone’s heart, but they can’t kill Christ, so they do away with the hearts where he can rule, those potential thrones where Christ could establish his Kingdom of love, justice, meaning, and fruitfulness.
So I think that today’s feast should be a special one for you and all your coworkers in the pro-life union. May it renew your motivation to continue fighting the only worthwhile fight: to extend and defend the everlasting Kingdom of Christ the Lord.
Your affectionate uncle, Eddy