When they told him the story (and how could they not? They couldn’t keep it from him, have it told to him by someone else, who didn’t understand …); when they told him the story, how did they explain it to him, an innocent himself, that for fear of him, out of anger at God’s plans for him, out of hatred and rage at his advent, so many others died?
How did he carry that wound, the guilt of the innocent survivor? What shape did the scars take as his understanding grew and wound itself around the horror and his own escape?
I wonder if that’s why he had such a tender spot for the children. For those who took his stories at face value and loved to hear them. For those whose wordless trust was absolute. For those who had survived atrocities they were too young to remember, and too alive to forget.
God help them.
A Prayer for the Holy Innocents:
We remember today, O God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by King Herod. Receive, we pray, into the arms of your mercy all innocent victims; and by your great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish your rule of justice, love and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
From todays’ lectionaries: Matthew 18: 1-14; Mark 10: 13-16; Matthew 2: 13-18