The Church gives us this disturbing feast of the martyrdom of the innocent children of Bethlehem and its surrounding region, only three days after Christmas. Pro-lifers naturally connect the feast day with the modern-day massacre of the pre-born innocents. One aspect of the account that is seldom mentioned in modern parallels, however, is the selective nature of the killing. Out of fear of a rival king, Herod ordered the deaths of baby boys just as in earlier times Pharaoh told the midwives to kill all Hebrew sons at birth to ensure their continued enslavement in Egypt.
The pagan Roman writer Macrobius says that Caesar Augustus, on receiving news of the massacre of boys under the age of two and the killing of Herod's own son, exclaimed "I'd rather be Herod's sow than Herod's son." History records that Herod the Great did not spare his own family in the many murders he ordered. Three of his sons were executed, and the last one, Antipater, was killed only after his father received permission to do so from the emperor Augustus shortly before the birth of Christ. The most horrifying fact in abortion is that the baby is condemned to death by his or her own parents. When the Bible seeks to express the infinite love of God for us, it uses the analogy of a mother's tender love. What culture can survive when children are not protected by their own parents?
Today, thanks to prenatal testing and ultrasounds, parents often discover the sex of the child they are expecting. Worldwide this has led to the phenomenon experts refer to as sex-selection abortion. Since the 1970s a significant component within the larger abortion holocaust is the over 50 million girls "missing" at birth in China, a further 10 million in India, and huge numbers more from other nations on all continents. How strange it is that precisely in the decades since the rise of radical feminism, our contemporary Herods eliminate girls rather than boys. Feminists do not shrink from criminal hypocrisy when they strive to block resolutions at the United Nations condemning sex-selection abortion!
History shows that the mighty and the educated are generally those behind great crimes. People who seek to dismiss the horror of sex-selection abortion do not realize that it is a growing trend and mistakenly believe it only happens among the uneducated. They are then confounded by the evidence that birthrates are most skewed in favor of boys in the richest provinces of India and China and among the most literate and educated classes. Even several nations in Europe are implicated in the killing of baby girls.
Vox in Rama audita est: ploratus et ululatus multus; Rachel plorans filios suos, et noluit consolari, quia non sunt. A voice was heard in Rama, weeping and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted, because they are no more. (Mt 2:18) "Because they are no more" follows immediately upon the slaughter of the Innocents in the Gospel of Matthew and reflects the immense grief the death of a baby causes. They were the inspiration for Project Rachel, the life-transforming apostolate of post-abortion healing that started in the USA and spread worldwide. The Divine Mercy of God experienced in this ministry offers the hope post-abortive mothers need to find peace and the courage to be "Silent No More."
To overcome the grief of losing a child we must follow the Way, the Truth and the Life. The tyrant's wrath was impotent against the Christ Child and ultimately even against his infant victims who were taken up to Heaven. Despite the reign of modern Herods and the current massacre of innocents, we are sustained in our faith, hope and love during this Christmas season as we pray for the rapid return of Christ the King.