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.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more. (Mt 2:16-18)
I must admit, I understand the feelings that many people have regarding the taking of life. When I was a chaplain at the state prison, I met some people who were incarcerated for some of the most heinous of crimes. The “mortal/human” side of me had a great war with the “immortal/soul” side of me.
In my humanity, I thought, “Surely, this person deserves to die. Not only to die, but, perhaps, to die miserably.” But the soul within cried out against any action that would take the life of anyone, even a condemned person who committed such horrible acts.
As a chaplain, I met other people in prison who, truly, had turned their lives around after some encounter or experience. I would think to myself, “If that person were executed, he would never have had the chance to renounce evil and embrace God.”
We take the lives of people for the most awful of reasons. Today’s feast reminds us of innumerable infants who were slaughtered simply because Herod wanted to get rid of the competition, the new-born king. Those children never had a chance to grow, to experience the joys of life, or to contribute to the world.
Today, we still have many people who treat life capriciously. Innocents are still being slaughtered daily in the gruesome act of abortion. To simply call it a “choice” is a cruel outlook. No one should have the legal choice to commit murder.
Others are slaughtered in genocide or, as Herod ordered, infanticide. Still others die because of wars and insurrections. Thousands upon thousands die from famine or abject poverty. Sins against life abound.
One would think that we have learned our lesson after all these years yet there are many who espouse the culture of death and promote it personally as well as by promoting and defending laws that allow the taking of life: abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and doctor-assisted suicide to name a few.
As we remember the slaughter of the innocents, we need to ask ourselves a brutally hard question: “Do we value life or do we make excuses for the taking of life?”
FAITH ACTION: Pray for all of those who have accepted and promote the culture of death, that they might repent and embrace life in all its stages.