Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs. Its’ hard for me to use the word “celebrate” when remembering this feast. This day saddens me more than any other day in the Church calendar, other than Good Friday. I cannot comprehend it. Pharoah in the Old Testament; Herod in the New. How could anyone order the slaughter of children? It baffles the mind. To lust so greedily for power, that you would destroy all male children two years and younger in “Bethlehem and its vicinity” cannot be comprehended. At its root, it is demonic.
Yet we live in a culture of death which destroys life for all kinds of reasons – fear, inconvenience, power, powerlessness, choice and lack of choice.
Today’s gospel got me thinking about Joseph:
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
Joseph knew the right thing to do, and he did it. His directive from God, and, I daresay, his instincts were to protect his child.
I once spoke with a woman who runs a crisis pregnancy center in Boston. She said that most women abort their babies because the baby’s father left them no choice – they either left or threatened to leave if she went through with the pregnancy. It was not choice, but lack of choice which led women this way.
Where would we be if Joseph chose this path? We’d still be awaiting a savior who would never come because His life had ended prematurely. The gates of heaven closed – for eternity.
I think it’s really difficult to be an upright young man in today’s culture – to want to protect and care for a woman, to want to protect his unborn child, to commit himself to chastity and holiness. The messages young men get from the culture couldn’t be more opposite and confusing.
Over the summer I had a conversation with my daughter’s college-aged friend who talked about how much grief he gets when other guys find out that he wants to wait until marriage for sex. He’s a fairly self-confident young man, but I wonder what it’s like for those who are not as confident. I wonder if it forces like-minded young men to “go underground” and keep quiet about what they believe, only reinforcing the loneliness that goes along with living life for Christ.
I am not a mother of sons. I wish I was. But having 18 nephews, and being around many young men among my daughters’ friends and my girlfriends’ sons, I have a heart for young men.
I ask you to join me today in praying for the young men of our culture. For courage and strength of conviction of holiness in a life for Christ; for them to form steadfast friendships to support them in their walk with Christ; for them to find genuine role models, like Joseph, to emulate and come alongside them to guide and lead them to live a life of manliness for Christ.
Holy Innocents, pray for us! Anne