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The Innocents

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Our Gospel focus changes today from the infancy narrative of St. Luke's Gospel to the infancy narrative of St. Matthew's Gospel as we keep the memory of the babies of Bethlehem who were slaughtered by King Herod.

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 2:16).

This event precipitated the flight of Joseph and Mary with the child to Egypt. You may remember that St. Matthew's Gospel makes an effort to portray Jesus as the "new Moses." So like Moses, Jesus comes to the land of Israel from Egypt after Herod's death.

This event is recounted in one of the more popular Christmas carols, the so-called "Coventry Carol." Herod the King, in his raging, Charged he hath this day; His men of might, in his own sight, All children young, to slay. The carol is named for the city of Coventry because in the 15th century, the trade union of shearers and tailors presented a pageant depicting the slaying of the Innocents.

It will be difficult to keep this feast today in the wake of the murder of twenty children in Newtown, Connecticut. As we pray today, let us remember these children and their families as well as all the unborn children who are aborted.

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