On this feast of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents we would do well to turn our sorrow to the families of the twelve girls and eight boys who were slaughtered in Newtown Connecticut on December 15. I am offering Mass today for those children and for their families.
We cannot be sure that Herod brought about the death of the children of Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. Of course we have that story in Matthew’s Gospel, where Matthew next told us that Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled to Egypt where they remained until after the death of Herod. Matthew went on to say that they then came back to Jerusalem, but since Herod’s son Archelaus was ruling there, they went and settled anew in Nazareth.
What Matthew told us is entirely different from what St. Luke wrote. According to Luke, Mary and Joseph had always lived in Nazareth before the child was born, and they returned there just forty days after his birth.
The Bible stories very often are not factual. Their writers had some message or moral to convey, and they chose traditional stories that helped put across their point. Luke chose one set of infancy stories that were going around, and Matthew chose another set of infancy narratives about jesus.
Anyway, today it is good for us to have this old feast to help us remember and pray for the children and families of Newtown Connecticut.