Daily Devotion for December 28, 2010
CHILDERMAS or HOLY INNOCENTS
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
I call upon you, O Lord. In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.
I lift my heart to you, O Lord, to be strengthened for this day. Be with me in all I do, my God; guide me in all my ways.
I will carry some burdens today; some trials will be mine. So I wait for your help, Lord, lest I stumble and fall.
I will do my work, Father, the work begun by your Son. He lives in me and I in him; may his work today be done.
Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; I humbly pray that we may always prove ourselves a people who remember your favor and are glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here from so many different lands and languages. Grant the spirit of wisdom those to whom we entrust with the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may demonstrate your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and days of trouble, do not let our trust in you fail; all which I ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions.
Walk with me, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all who I may meet.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.
Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake! For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
In Your mercy cut off my enemies, And destroy all those who afflict my soul; For I am Your servant.
The Flight into Egypt and Slaughter of the Innocents
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”
Notes on the Scripture
The Herod depicted in this passage is Herod the Great. He was an Edomite, which is to say, a Jew from the large area extending south from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba, bordering Egypt. (Today, ancient Edom is known as Idumea; it has become a generally barren land and geographically is part of southern Israel, southern Jordan, and eastern Egypt.) King David conquered Edom, and the people (by choice or force) had adopted Judaism by the time of Christ. Herod the Great lived from 73 BC to 4 BC; at the time of Christ's birth, he had been established by the Romans as a great king, ruling as a Roman "client" king over Idumea (Edom), Judea, Samaria and Galilee.
He was ruthless in defense of his power and notorious for his brutality. He was infamous for having slain his own sons, to prevent one of them from trying to usurp his throne. One ancient historian (Macrobius) wrote that when Caesar Augustus heard that all children under the age of two in Syria had been slain, he said, "it would be better to be Herod's pig than his son". Although some Christian commentators over the centuries have estimated the number of children murdered to have been in the tens of thousands, a more realistic view is that probably 10 to 20 infant males were slaughtered.
As short as it is, the story is inherently powerful, both saddening and infuriating. It has been widely celebrated as a feast day in Catholic countries and has formed the subject of countless sermons in churches of every denomination. The event presages the crucifixion of the innocent Christ.