Tonight at a Holy Hour of Adoration I heard a priest, preaching on the evil of abortion, use the readings from the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28th), the baby boys in the area of Bethlehem who were massacred at the order of King Herod, who was bent on destroying the newborn King of the Jews. The gospel for that feast is, of course, Matthew 2:13-18, which tells this story. My attention was caught by the quote from chapter 31 of the prophet Jeremiah at the end of this Matthean pericope. With the thought that the Holy Innocents must be the key to interpreting an inspired meaning of this word of the prophet, I turned to this place in his book, where he proclaims the salvation of the Lord, the return of the exiled people to the land of Israel.
I wrote a poem of sorts about verses 15-20:
The Holy Innocents
The prophet Jeremiah says, “Thus says the Lord:
In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping! Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more.”
If she refuses to be consoled, why then does the Lord, through the mouth of the prophet, immediately then say:
“Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes”?
Her children are no more!
… Yes, her children are no more, but behold, the Lord has the power to bring them back.
As the Lord says through the prophet: “They shall return from the enemy’s Land.”
Although the innocents were born in sin, by their witness to the Christ Child they will be reborn in heaven. Though they were “untamed calfs” they will return, if the Lord allows them.
… And for His part, He says,
“My heart stirs for them, I must show them mercy.”
My thoughts are that with the story and the feast of the Holy Innocents as the context for Jeremiah 31, we are presented with a scriptural witness to a solidly founded hope for the salvation of unbaptized infants and children through their witness to Christ, who experienced the frailty of being a child, and who experienced the wrath of man under which children in all ages have suffered and often died. This is, of course, not to deny original sin, but to rhetorically ask, ‘Who is more open and responsive to the love of others than a child?…What then about the grace of God?’ and ‘Who is more “invincibly ignorant” than an infant?’
What do you all think? Tell me especially if you think that I apply the scriptures wrongly. The question of unbaptized infants/children has recently resurfaced again (See Zenit.org Archives, December 2, 2005: “Theological Commission Studying Limbo”)–what are your thoughts?