Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents. It is a somber reminder for us that the wood of the Cradle is never separated from the wood of the Cross.
The modern day poet, Malcolm Guite, writes in his poem, “Refugee”
Whilst Herod rages still from his dark tower
Christ clings to Mary, fingers tightly curled,
The lambs are slaughtered by the men of power,
And death squads spread their curse across the world.
But every Herod dies, and comes alone
To stand before the Lamb upon the throne.
Too often we become the Herod of our own soul. As we rage from our dark tower, we behold the Christ-Child, the life of Grace within our souls—and will not abide Him. If the wounds of Christ are born for us, and because of us, so too is His exile with the Holy Family. Too often, we, like petty Herods, echo the words of another poem, “I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul.” We are kings are we not? Then, how can we abide another King in our lands or in our soul? Yes, even if His yoke be easy, and His burden light.
“When you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” Too often, God forgive us, have we found Him to pay Him “homage.”
As we drive Him from His crib, He beckons us to meet Him at the foot of His cross. And there, He calls us to conversion, to metanoia—words which literally mean to turn around.
We are called back.
For God makes the wood of the Cradle be the wood of the Cross. Let our Herod die there then, at the foot of the Cross, as we stand before the Lamb upon His throne.
Though undeserving, we are, once again, and always, invited back to a stable. At midnight. In Bethlehem. In the piercing cold.
Before we return, let us see Our Lord’s garments at the foot of the cross, stripped and torn by us, and for our sake. Then, we need not enter the stable without a gift for the new King, for He has need of swaddling clothes.
We behold, at the end of all things, a Christ within the cave of our soul who is wrapped in cloths. And this cave is either a tomb, or the Heaven of Bethlehem. God grant our Herod dies today, so we may finally behold the tiny Lamb of God, lying in His throne, waiting for us, wrapped in swaddling clothes.
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