Our feast today, I think, is one of the most poignant in the Church's calendar - the feast of the Holy Innocents. The liturgy is very beautiful as it honours the little boys who knew nothing of the world, never mind the Lord who created them. And yet, in this innocence, before some of them could speak, they are murdered - put to death in the place of Christ.
In his reflection for the feast, St Quodvultdeus says that they were taken to be Jesus Christ, and what a grace: there is the programme for our lives: to seek to resemble Jesus Christ, to be taken for him, mistaken for him. That is why we are called Christians - so we might be Christ. As St Paul puts it: "I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me". One of the wonderful images the liturgy offers us today sums it all up beautifully: they follow the lamb. As little children, they skip along behind him. I pray we might all be able to do the same.
Today is, of course, a day to remember all the Innocents who have be slaughtered. Those who have been abused. But also those who have perished in the culture of death: the aborted, those killed in the procedures like IVF and embryonic stem cell research, those who die unknown thanks to the Morning After Pill. Lives deemed worthless and so discarded. It is also a day to remember the millions of children who lie frozen in fertility clinics all over the world - suspended, neither allowed to live or die. What horrors the people of this time have visited upon our children. Today's Herods wear white coats, speak with gentle voices in counselling rooms, wield pipettes instead of swords, dispense tablets.
There are many parallels between the slaughter of the Innocents and the culture of death in our day, but there is one I find most intriguing. Some scholars dispute the event - they say that there is not one shred of evidence outside St Matthew's Gospel that these little boys of Bethlehem were killed, so they deny it happened - it was made up, a mere literary device to get the Infant Jesus to Egypt. Well, St Matthew saw fit to record it and to attribute a prophecy to foretell it: it must have happened. Given that Matthew was writing for Jewish audience, the massacre must have had some significance.
However, this scholarly attitude parallels that of many today who defend abortion, contraception, IVF etc - they deny that they are wrong, they deny the facts, they will not allow them be known: they even deny the humanity of those who are murdered. They are living in denial, they are easily offended when the facts are made known and they fight back, their most potent weapon being "feeling hurt".
May our dear little Saints, the Holy Innocents, martyrs for Christ, intercede for us, for the pro-life cause, and for an end to the culture of death. May they watch over us and guide us in our lives so like them, we too may be taken for Christ, and yes, even have the joy of suffering for him.