Remembering the Innocents

A long time ago, one of my former denominational pews was the Roman Catholic church. They have tons of feasts and solemnities and holy days. The oddest one to me was always tucked somewhere in the week between Christmas and New Years. It was the Feast (solemnity?) of the Holy Innocents.

On this feast, the Gospel Reading came from the book of Matthew. It chronicled the bizarre decision Herod made.

In hearing of the birth of a new king and that the wise men had escaped reporting his location, Herod chose to kill every male child that had an age that fit the range of the new king. Meanwhile, Joseph smuggled Jesus and Mary to safety in Egypt. (Never made sense to me. In effect, he killed future soldiers and left himself short in about 15 years.)

Usually, the priests focused their sermons on pro-life, anti-abortion topics. Birth control was anathema, and women were painted as only having value as baby incubators. (Sorry, feminazi rising up. Back to topic…I’ve digressed.)

I want to propose this as a holiday for all people of good will who love life, light, and truth. Instead of focusing on abortion, focus on loving the children in your life. Not just the polite, kind children who are easy to love, but also the ones that break your heart.

Love the little street urchin in ragged clothes with a dirty face and unwiped nose. Give him a treat, or buy her something slightly used to keep the chill out. Or invite them inside on a cold day for videos or family game time.

Have your kids be friends with that teen no one wants to hang out with. Maybe she’s overweight and covered in pimples the size of Mount Olympus, or maybe he’s always angry and tired for reasons he would never speak of, even to closest friends.

Open your home to that Goth kid. You might find he has a dazzling singing voice, or she has an active heart and mind writing the next great American tragedy. All the kid needs is a safe place to grow and explore without fear of teasing, bullying, or criticism.

If you’re a mandated reporter and you’ve seen something, make that call. Nothing may happen, and the abuse may continue. Or you could save a child a lifetime of pain and agony, as well as prevent a societal tragedy in the form of a school shooting or mall firing spree.

Befriend the single parent. Add some extra food for a family dinner and invite that family over. Offer to keep the children and hand the parent a gift certificate for a movie, coffee shop, or spa treatment. Or write a letter of encouragement listing all the good skills the parent has.

It isn’t enough to say we love someone. We have to show our love by our actions. To remember those snuffed out tragically and too soon, we need to love the ones left behind. Let’s remember the holy innocents by honoring and loving all the children in our lives, especially the tough nuts to crack.

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