Today the Catholic Church remembers the Holy Innocents – the babies of Bethlehem massacred by King Herod in his effort to find and destroy the Christ child. How many were killed in Herod’s determination to kill all who resembled Jesus in gender and age is unknown; the estimate ranges from 10,000 to a few dozen.
The numbers don’t really matter a whole lot. The death of even one innocent child is too many.
Yet, innocent children die every day. From poverty and hunger. From lack of clean drinking water. From their parent’s inability to take them to the doctor when they are ill. From physical abuse and neglect. From abortion. From war. From acts of terror and other acts of violence.
We can argue about the numbers, we can argue about root causes, we can argue about solutions. (And we do.) We can argue ourselves blue (or red) in the face. (And we do.)
But today, on this feast of the Holy Innocents, pehaps we might put aside the arguments and the politics and simply pray for all of the innocent children who die, from whatever causes. And perhaps we might also pray for the wisdom and grace to do a better job of protecting our children. In the words of the morning prayer for this day,
Father, you sent your only Son to die that all the children of this world might live and grow to fullness in the kingdom he proclaimed. Transform in the hearts of all people the forces of violence, cruelty, and destruction into the one saving force of love, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.