Main readings: Jeremiah 31.15-20; Ps 124; 1 John 1.5-2.2; Matthew 2.13-18
Supplementary readings: Ps 65; Luke 5.27-35; Isaiah 44.1-8; Ps 40,11-22; Galatians 4.1-11
“Herod sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under.” (Matthew 2.16b)
Eighty years ago on May 13 1939, the St Louis sailed for Cuba from Hamburg carrying 937 mostly German Jewish refugees. While they were in transit, Cuba changed the rules leading to 620 of the refugees being taken in by European countries that would soon be overrun by Germany. Of these, 254 were killed in the Holocaust. In his ‘Carol for Holy Innocents’ Day’, Norman Nicholson notes that too few children were saved from Hitler:
“Safe the unmartyred innocents lie;
But on the frozen cradle of Europe
The infant Jesus is left to die.”
He reminds us that our faith invites us to see Jesus in the hungry, prisoners and the innocents that are left to die due to our indifference. Hitler killed children that the allies could have protected.
The last of the refugee children have now been removed from Nauru, but we Australians tolerated their mistreatment for far too long. Insensitive Government policy is contributing to the death of Aboriginal children today. The Holy Innocents are among us still.
This obscure Feast, which is given a little prominence by the Lectionary this year, calls us to action – to protect the Holy Innocents of our time.