Every December 28, the church remembers the slaughter ordered by King Herod the Great in Bethlehem to kill all children under two years of age and to liquidate the future king of Israel, designation of Christ, whom he conceived as a political competitor.
Innocents’ Day — Feast of the Holy Innocents
Innocents’ Day, or the Feast of the Holy Innocents, is an important feast day celebrated by the Catholic Church. It is observed on December 28th and it commemorates the massacre of children by King Herod during his attempt to kill Jesus.
The feast is a reminder of the preciousness of all life, the fragility of childhood and the evil that can exist in the world. It is a solemn day of remembrance for those who were killed and a day of prayer for all innocent victims of violence.
The Church also uses the day to pray for world peace, an end to violence and a commitment to protect the innocent. On this day, Christians are called upon to examine their consciences, repent of their sins and strive for justice and mercy in all things.
The importance of family
It is important to reflect on the importance of family and the responsibility we have as adults to care for our children. This means being present for them, offering them love and support and helping them to become responsible adults.
The Catholic Church uses this day to pray for all children “killed before birth”, that is, those who have been victims of abortion. A common deviation has also turned it into a day of jokes.
It is not known exactly how many innocents were killed on Herod’s orders, but according to tradition, some 30 young children died at the hands of Roman soldiers.
King Herod ordered their deaths in a last-ditch effort to kill the Messiah after being tricked by the magi who had come to welcome the child who would become the new king of the Jews.
The location of the Messiah would be revealed to Herod by the magi. However, the Gospel account states that the magi returned to their homeland by another route after becoming suspicious of the king. All the little children in and around Bethlehem were killed by the murderous maniac Herod, who was enraged.
Innocent jokes aside, it is important to reflect on the importance of family and the responsibility we have as adults to care for our children. This means being present for them, offering them love and support and helping them to become responsible adults.
People have transformed this day to also make “innocent jokes” against the chosen one.
Israel was ruled by Herod when the magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem, presumably Median priests, knowledgeable in astrology and possessing a “science of cycles”.
The narrative describes them asking for the birthplace of the future king of Israel, an event they had foreseen by studying the sky. It has been hypothesized that his birth, believed to have taken place in 6 B.C., was marked by a very unique configuration of the planets.
When they found the child, they recognized him as the king they said he was by giving him three symbolic gifts.
A new king who will reign over all nations will be born when a new star appears in Israel, according to an Old Testament prophecy (Numbers 24:17).
The story spread throughout Jerusalem
Herod was also very concerned about what he perceived as a political challenge to his hegemony. Because he was so fearful of being succeeded, he had already killed two of his wives and several of his sons.
He was potentially at odds with anyone who might emerge as a future king of Israel.
So he gathered the wise men of Israel, the priests and the scribes and asked them what the Scriptures said about the place of the birth of the king of Israel that the prophets had predicted out of intrigue and fear.