The hard historical evidence for the massacre of the innocents of Bethlehem may be sketchy, thank God, yet the meme pervades our culture, from Moses to Jesus; even though we can barely comprehend the idea, we admit it to our imagination with good cause: because we know of what we are capable, given unlimited power, given unlimited firepower, given unlimited personal prestige and paranoia. We are dangerous animals. We commit atrocities. We have seen it happen; we see it happening; we turn away, but we know. We are not to be trusted. Only our horror gives us hope.
What would we do to protect the innocents? What would we risk, what would we render? How will we change our ways so that the theme of this story fades from our culture, no longer speaks to the darkest corners of our history, our imagination, our soul?
God’s answer was to be born among them, born among us. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” they asked the women later. Because that’s where we found him first, sticky with blood and finding first breaths between catching cries.
they had names
Each chosen to fit.
More than one was named Herod,
called after their king.