THE HOLY INNOCENTS, MARTYRS (FEAST)
A voice was heard in Ramah . . . ; Rachel weeping for her children.
The feast of the Holy Innocents is jarring. Amid our Christmas celebrations, we are confronted with tragedy and grief. We turn from the Christ child in the manger to hear mothers sobbing over the death of their children. It’s as if God is reminding us that life is filled with both joy and sorrow. Referring to this feast, Pope Francis wrote that “Christmas is also accompanied, whether we like it or not, by tears” (Letter to Bishops, December 28, 2016). The Holy Innocents remind us that the Son of God plunged himself into our complicated, even painful, reality. And he did so out of love for us.
In becoming man, Jesus fully embraced our humanity with all its limitations. He was born into poverty to a young couple who offered only two turtledoves when they consecrated him at the Temple (Luke 2:24). His family fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s threats and lived as refugees until they could safely return to Nazareth. In ministry, Jesus experienced both admiration and rejection. And he knew the blessing of close relationships, as well as the grief of losing his father and the disappointment when his friends abandoned him.
So whether we are suffering or rejoicing today, we can be confident that Jesus knows what it’s like. Better yet, he enters into our circumstances with us. It’s easy to imagine Jesus smiling beside us when everything is going well. It’s harder to trust that he’s with us when challenges arise. We might think that he has forgotten us. But he is never far from us. He hears our cries, just as he heard the cries of the grieving mothers of Bethlehem. When we suffer, he weeps with us, just as he wept over Lazarus with Mary and Martha—and he invites us to weep with those who are suffering (John 11:35; Romans 12:15).
You are never forgotten, never alone in your suffering. Jesus is with you, even as he calls you to be with your brothers and sisters who are suffering. Can you hear their cries?
“Lord, help me to reach out to the suffering people in my life.”
1 John 1:5–2:2
Psalm 124:2-5, 7-8
WORD AMONG US