When [the Magi] had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Arise, take the young child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy Him."
When he arose, he took the young child and His mother by night and departed into Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son." When Herod realized that he had been made a fool of by the Magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the Magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the Prophet: "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, for they were no more." ~~ Matt. 2:13-18
Today the Church is honoring the innocent children slaughtered at Herod's hand, the martyrs who died for Christ without even knowing of Him in this life. For a beautiful commentary, see today's reading, at Universalis, from a sermon of St Quodvultdeus.
I also can't help but think of the holy innocents who are killed each day through abortion. St. Quodvultdeus wrote:
" You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. You imagine that if you accomplish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life himself "
and in these few, powerful words reached the core of "the issue." The issue, all too often, is fear. Fear drives women to abortion: fear of one's own failure, fear of the responsibility of parenthood, fear of financial problems, fear of the father of the baby (do you know how many abortions are coerced? See links such as this article at The Eliot Institute , although be forewarned that it is difficult reading.)
A woman considering abortion imagines that if she "accomplishes her desire" she can "prolong her own life" -- in other words, she believes, as Herod did, that removing the child from the picture will erase the problem.
But the child, like Jesus, cannot simply be removed. Jesus is Life Himself. The child in the womb, so intimately connected to his mother (even to a mother who does not want to acknowledge the connection) is a connection to Life. Removing the child does violence not only to the innocent baby's body but to the mother's relationship with Life Himself. She becomes a modern-day Herod, driven by a fear that destroys her heart.
A post-abortive woman, if she doesn't reject the act and repent, will sink ever more deeply into a defense of it, to the point of irrationality. But, if she turns back to the Lord, He can and will restore her heart, her life and her connection to Him.
There is hope. There is healing. And all the saints in heaven, including the Holy Innocents, are praying for it.
For more on the aftermath of abortion, see The Eliot Institute, Rachel's Vineyard, Hope After Abortion, The National Office of PostAbortion Reconciliation and Healing, and Operation Outcry and the blog, After Abortion.
Also, for a beautiful shrine dedicated to children who have died unborn, see The Shrine of the Holy Innocents.
(This post is repeated from last year on this feast day.)