THE MARTYRDOM OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS – December 28th
LITTLE DID YOU KNOW, HOLY LITTLE ONES!
The day after Christmas we celebrated the feast of Saint Steven, the Protomartyr, and today, on the fourth day of Christmastide, we commemorated the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents. The first was a grown man, full of the Holy Spirit, brave, able to speak for himself. The latter were little children, powerless and silent, just like silent was the Night that witnessed the coming of the Word as a man.
Martyrdom cannot be explained or understood by mere human logic. In fact, all that is of this world, all that is horizontal and temporal, recoils from martyrdom, self-preservation perhaps being the strongest impulse of the natural realm. Martyrdom comes from the heart more than from the mind; and “the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing”. (Blaise Pascal).
Some martyrs give their life freely, bearing the ultimate witness to the Truth. Others shed their blood as victims of lies and evil; both are a light onto the world, revealing the beauty of God, who is Love, and the horror of rejecting Love. Martyrs are a lamp on our pilgrim way, for they cut through the complexities of indecision and tepidity, letting us see the ultimate realities and calling for our choice.
Bellow, I share with you some thoughts on the commemoration of the Holy Innocents.
HATRED OF THE CHILD, AND THE PRETTY DEMON, NARCISSUS
Egolatry and hatred of the child are fellow wayfarers down the twisted roads of history since the enemy of our human nature tempted our primordial parents into self-absorption. When we choose to be god onto ourselves, the pathological need to be god for others follows. Then, all hell breaks loose, literally. Soon, we see any other man or woman as a threat to our “god status”. We fear, we hate, we kill; after all, there can only be one god, and I am it.
The narcissist can covertly manipulate others to worship him (or her) by playing for others’ sympathy, stealthily using his (or her) real or perceived weaknesses and wounds as a hook for the attention of others; or overtly repeats his grandiose hymn about himself to others so constantly that they will be tempted to believe the narcissist’s assessment of himself. With time, the drive to be god for himself and others makes him either a tiresome burden or an oppressive force for those who fall prey to his egolatry. Either way, anyone whom the narcissist perceives as a challenge to his “god status” becomes the enemy, and the enemy must be destroyed. It was so in the heavenly realm, with the rebellious angel, who filled with envy, refused to be whom it was created to be; it was so with Herod, and so it has been with every despot, malignant egolaters through the centuries, all driven by the pretty demon, Narcissus. Yet we know that self-gazing will, inevitably, cause us to drown in a pool of lies, and to destroy others in the process.
Was it not malignant narcissism that Herod terribly manifested when, fearful of the Child’s real and legitimate claim to the throne of, not only Israel, but the whole of creation, made him the protagonist of the slaughter of little innocent ones? Is not the same evil at work in the hearts of the “Herods” of today who put the full weight of their influence and power at the service of those who have been the perpetrators of the massacre of millions of innocent children within the space where a child should be most at peace and secure, the maternal womb? Is not the same demon freezing the hearts of so many fathers who, enamored with their long worn-out adolescence, either succumb to cowardice, doing nothing to save the life of the child they engendered, or worse, push the women to destroy the life of the innocent little one?
Every time the demon of narcissism rears its abominable head, hatred for the child and murder of the innocents follows. Yet the Eternal, the Unspeakable, the Omnipotent, chose to give Himself to us as the Child, to save us and to bring us to His glory. Do we receive this Gift?
Today, the horror of hatred for the Child and the abomination of infanticide break into our short attention span when we see in the news reports of the savagery of children being beheaded by fanatical extremists, or school girls being abducted from their places of study and being forced to renounce their faith or, perhaps, risk a life of sexual slavery or even death. We are momentarily shocked and angered when we hear of horrendous acts of seduction and abuse perpetrated against children and the young by some in positions of authority, who have been entrusted with their care and protection, even some who are called to reveal the love, respect and solicitous care of God the Father to these little ones. But the urgent boredom of self-concern soon pulls us away from the imminent danger that surrounds our children in a world grown old in sin. With the exception of a group of generous souls, we can easily turn into the three little monkeys who “see no evil”, “hear no evil” and “speak no evil”. Or perhaps we are so busy with our concerns that we choose not to see, not to listen, and, most of all, not to speak out, lest we fall into the worst sin of modernity, political incorrectness!
I suppose that in a country that has grown blind to the genocide of thousands of babies killed every week by abortion, and who knows how many thousands more, who are not welcomed in the cold, inhospitable womb of their mothers, made barren by foreign substances used to jettison the little lives, sustaining the awareness of, and the outrage over the senseless slaughter of children, would be too much to ask or expect. Alas, now as before, there seems to be no hiding from Herod’s mercenaries, while marriage and the family, as created by God, are being wantonly disfigured by today’s society and stealthily targeted for distortion by some in the Church.
There are two sayings in Spanish that come to mind and heart: “Ojo que no ve, corazón que no siente” (when the eye doesn’t see, the heart does not feel). We are, indeed, a visual age, but we choose to see what we want to see, and to look away from what could distress or convict us. We could be awed by the images in a sonogram of a baby in the mother’s womb, or we can choose not to look, so that we can call that baby a “blob” that can easily be discarded. We are shocked by the images of parents stunted by the absurdity of their children’s slaughter, and for a while we can vicariously partake of the sorrow, that is, until we put the tragedy aside, or make a mockery of it by using it as a pawn in our inane political games. What if you were to come with me to the rear, hidden areas of any of the abortuaries in our backyard, and we were to look in the garbage cans that contain the dismembered and burnt bodies of the little ones, the holy innocents of today? Would we see? Would we feel?
The second adage I would share with you is: “No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver” (no one is blinder than the one who does not want to see). Can we not see? Can we not understand that when innocence and childhood is snuffed systematically and daily in our country and throughout the world, we cannot escape the consequences of such evil? Saint Paul could well say to us today what he said to the Christian community in Galatia: “You stupid people, who has bewitched you? (Galatians 3:1). How narcissistic has our life become?
Some of you may say, “OMG, there goes Father Omar again! Mr. “black or white” is at it again!” Maybe; or maybe I am just overwhelmed by the obvious.
The commemoration of the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents at the hand of the egolatrous Herod, the despot, comes and goes every year. Does this memorial inform our hearts and minds? Does its impact make a difference in the way we choose to live and act? If yes, may God bless us, brothers and sisters; if not, then let us have the coherence to just skip it, and go back to our self-absorbed, sterile little lives. Let us submerge ourselves in some self-help book or program, or take a course in self-assertiveness, or …anything with “self” at the center of it.
Those who would, let us repent, repair and restore our lives, our families, our marriages, for the sake of the Child, for the sake of our children. Please, pray with me, with each other, for perseverance in this decisive season.
The Holy Innocents have triumphed and wait for us in the Kingdom of the Child. Let us be steadfast in love for the Father, and the Son, in the Holy Spirit, and for one another.
Father Omar A. Huesca