Friends, on this feast of the Holy Innocents, a baby is at the center of attention as the Gospel story commences. Cherished by his mother, protected by his foster-father, bestowed with gifts by the Magi, the baby Jesus is at the same time threatened by Herod and indeed by all of Jerusalem, which, we are told in an earlier verse, trembled at his coming.

Herod’s massacre of the innocents mimics, of course, Pharaoh’s murder of the male children of the Hebrews at the time of Moses’ birth. Once more we are made to see that, in the fallen world, the least powerful can be ruthlessly eliminated in order to satisfy the needs and assuage the fears of the most powerful. 

Of course, the same Herod who casually ordered the murder of the children of Bethlehem had previously commanded the execution of two of his own sons. This awful story functions as a vivid picture of what compromised family life looks like. 

The abuse of young people can and should be analyzed psychologically and sociologically, but biblical people know that, in the final analysis, it is a manifestation of the dysfunction born of sin.

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