By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Today, we remember the Feast of the Holy Innocents, those children who were slaughtered in King Herod’s attempts to kill the Christ Child. The Gospel of Matthew recounts that all of the boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem under two years of age were massacred and “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).
This anguish is all too familiar to many of us in the wake of the senseless deaths in Newtown, Connecticut. Our prayers have been with those who have lost their young children, as well as those who lost loved ones who had reached adulthood. Many of you have shown your concern through support for those families, the local Catholic parish and the wider community.
One of the first questions that arise after tragedies such as these is: how can we work to prevent this in the future? Certainly, we must reexamine enforcing reasonable gun control and increasing our care for those suffering from mental illness. Yet, even deeper than our response to those contributing factors, is the need to reclaim a respect for life in our culture.
Over the years, our profound respect as a culture for the dignity of each human person has slowly eroded. This lack is demonstrated in the gratuitous violence seen in video games and other forms of entertainment, in the overwhelming number of abortions of innocent children, through an increase in instances of domestic violence and, yes, in the way that we treat one another on a daily basis.
In remembering the Holy Innocents and all those that suffer from our society’s disrespect for human life, we must seek to renew our love for the sanctity of life. This renewal begins with you and with me; it begins in the family. We are called to educate children, so that they know how to respond to the violence they see in television shows, in news reports and even in the school yard. Each one of us is responsible for recognizing that each person’s life is an immeasurable gift. We cannot instantaneously cure the world of all of its ills, but one interaction at a time, we can begin to change the culture, thereby creating anew a culture of life!