Voices ever ancient, ever new. Feast of the Holy Innocents 2013.

“Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more.” (Matthew 2:17-18)

In an ancient work known as the Incomplete Work on Matthew, an anonymous ancient Christian writer offers the following insight on these verses from today’s Gospel:

“A voice was heard in Ramah.” Ramah was Saul’s city. Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin. Benjamin was the son of Rachel, whose memorial was near Bethlehem, where these wicked deeds were done. Therefore, since the babies were killed in Bethlehem, where there is a monument to Rachel, this is why Rachel is described as weeping. What he meant by “weeping” is revealed as the tears of the infants; what he meant by “wailing” is shown to be the lamenting of the mothers. For the babies wept because they were separated from their mothers. The mothers wept because they were bereft of their children, as if their insides were being torn from them. And it is possible to see greater grief in the mothers who remained behind than in the dying babies. For the children suffered a single moment of grief, because they had been separated from their mothers, not because they were being led out to death. For they did not yet possess a fear of death. The mothers, however, experienced twofold suffering: in the first place, they saw their own babies being killed; in the second place, they were themselves bereft of their children. For the children, death brought a blessed end to their grief. For the mothers, however, the memory of their babies continually renewed their grief.” (Homily 2)

O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed
and proclaimed on this day,
not by speaking but by dying,
grant, we pray,
that the faith in you which we confess with our lips
may also speak through our manner of life.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!