St Mary Magdalene † St Bartholomew † St Alban †
Sunday’s 23rd & 30th December 2012
Choices, so many choices. This newsletter covers a number of different celebrations all the way from the last week of our Advent season, Christmas through to the New Year. So which theme to take when I have so many to chose from?
As I write this article the thought that jumps out at me is not the joyful expectation of Advent, the glorious incarnation or the celebration of the beginning of the New Year. Instead it is a feast day too often forgotten jammed as it is between our Christmas and New Year. The feast day of Holy Innocents is celebrated on the 28th December. In the Gospel of Matthew (2:16-18) we hear about the dreadful events that this feast day ‘celebrates’:
‘16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,* he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.* 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
Two thousand years later as parents are still tragically mourning the loss of their children. The shooting of twenty children in Newtown, Connecticut through to children killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan as ‘collateral damage’ in drone strikes or the children who die through starvation day by day.
The slaughter of the innocents continues just as much today as it did two thousand years ago. Violence visited upon the innocent should be challenged wherever it is found. The value of the feast day that bears its name is to remind us of this fact. Sadly, it is too often forgotten amidst the excitement of our Christmas celebrations.