Monday, December 28, 2015

the holy innocents

Symbolically, the massacre of the innocents reminds us of how the world hated Christ from the beginning. And if it hated him, we should not wonder if we also must at times must suffer for our faith. There are those, of course, who suggest that the event is not historical, that it never took place, as such a horrendous slaughter of young children would have outraged the world of the time and been recorded elsewhere than in the Gospel of St Matthew. Their suggestion fails on a number of grounds. 

The first is that there are numerous historical events for which we have only a single source. To say that we must treat this as doubtful simply because that single source is St Matthew is special pleading. Secondly, we know enough about the character of Herod from other sources to know that this is an action he would have been well capable of. He did not hesitate to murder his own wife and several of his children, not to mention numerous others, to maintain his grip on power; a few peasant children would have meant nothing to him. And there is not, in any case, any reason to presume that such an action would have made the 'headlines' of its day and been recorded in multiple sources. A great many far worse occurrences are lost to history and known only now to God.

So it is foolish, I think, to try and argue that this event did not happen. Just as it was foolish of Herod to order the action in the first place. He knew the Messiah was sent by God. Did he really think that he, a mere mortal even though he was a king, could put a stay on God's plans? Which should be of comfort to us when we see so much opposition in the world to the Gospel message. God's plans can not be thwarted. It could not be done by Herod; and it can not be done by the evil men of our day either. 

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