December 28th, the fourth day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This day has its origins in Matthew’s gospel account of the birth of Jesus and Herod’s reaction to rumors of a newborn king.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
~Matthew 2: 17
It is a call to reflect on the children and families — the Innocents — who even today are so often the first victims of our wars, our politics, our way of life.
Extreme wealth in one part of the world means extreme poverty elsewhere. While we throw away our leftover food, somewhere else a child starves. Every war, every military action, results in “collateral damages” — our modern euphemism for Holy Innocents sacrificed on the altar of national pride.
The goal of a just society should be to look first after its most vulnerable. Our calling is to bring about, as much as we can, this vision here and now. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless; these are the first steps toward that vision. It is, quite literally, the least we can do.
For Additional Reading:
Faith, Fear, and the Politics of Mercy. National Catholic Reporter
To Honor the Innocents. Theology is a Verb
Saint of the Day: Holy Innocents. AmericanCatholic.org