Fri, 27 December 2019
O innocent martyrs of the Christ
who gave your lives
from the cradle
for Him who carries the Cross,
who suffered and died in His place
even before His crucifixion,
even as His martyrs would do
after His death on the Tree –
let our hearts cry not
for the evil that has wrought
your violent death;
pray we not fear
the dark wrath of this world’s king
but set our hearts
on the joy of our Lord’s kingdom,
where you now reign with Him
and to which we hope to come
by the laying down of our own lives
in His Name.
And pray for the least among us
who suffer the most this day,
that they who are murdered in the womb
will know the light of Christ’s holy face.
Fri, 27 December 2019
(1Jn.1:5-2:2; Ps.124:2-5,7-8; Mt.2:13-18)
“The blood of His Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”
And as martyrs of the Church, these innocent children slaughtered by Herod participate in the pouring forth of the blood of Christ.
“Out of Egypt I have called my son.” What does the prophet mean but that by the only Son all shall be redeemed of their sins – that out of sin all are called, all are drawn by the Lord? “Broken was the snare, and we were freed” when the child was born, when He died upon the cross.
And that death is begun already in the slaughter of the holy innocents, whom indeed we commemorate as martyrs this day. In their sacrifice the cross is already known, though the Child Jesus be but a boy. No greater evil, no greater act of sin could be than Herod’s cruel decree to “massacre all the boys two years and under in Bethlehem and its environs.” And in the “sobbing and loud lamentation” rising from the town where Jesus was born we hear presaged our own cry, our own beating of our breasts as we gaze upon the crucified body of God’s Holy One.
It is sin that brings the slaughter of the innocent children, and it is sin that causes Christ’s crucifixion. And we are participants in that sin, brothers and sisters. “If we say, ‘We have never sinned,’ we make Him a liar and His word finds no place in us.” For He has come because of the sin which encompasses mankind, to redeem us from its sentence of death. And the blessed apostle John makes clear that we are indeed all participants in sin, and if we deny this fact we make His sacrifice null for our lives and continue to walk in darkness. We must all bewail our sins and the horrors they have wrought, and from their snare we shall be released – else the “raging waters” will overwhelm us.
The souls of the innocents slaughtered by the evil king have been preserved, for their “help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Our souls, too, shall be redeemed “if we acknowledge our sin,” our complicity in evil. For “He who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong” if we are but able to see we are not innocent as He, or they.
Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.
Music: "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.
O LORD, take from us our weeping for our sins;
make us innocent as these children.
YHWH, what horrors our sins have wrought? Are we not complicit in the slaughter of these little ones, as indeed we are complicit in the crucifixion of your Son? Should we say, “We are free of the guilt of sin”? Should we deceive ourselves about the darkness in which we find ourselves? If we should, we would make void the sacrifice of Christ for the cleansing of our souls. For what would then need to be cleansed, and why should He have died?
The truth is we are surrounded by sin and it would overwhelm us without the blood shed by Jesus. It is He alone who breaks the snare that holds us, and His martyrs share in His sacrifice. And we are called by you, O LORD, to share in this holy offering with them.
Out of Egypt you call us, LORD, far from the darkness of sin. And if we admit our sin before you, in such light of truth we can be assured of your forgiveness. To Jesus let us come; at the foot of His Cross let us remain, and we shall never be separated from His cleansing grace.