We only know about because St. Matthew remembered it, and, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote it down for the record. If not for that, it would have been lost, and nobody would have known what actually went on there.
“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.” (Mt. 2:16)
Nobody knows their names, those Holy Innocents who were massacred so that a corrupt king could retain the worldly trappings of power and luxury. Nobody knows the grief felt by their families. Nobody can measure the effects of the tragedy.
But there is a record. We know what happened. The world will not forget them. We understand why they were killed, these first martyrs.
One of the dangers in our modern information-drenched world is that key facts, essential events, are too easily lost in the fog of meaningless data. Too often it seems that there’s just too much out there for people to comprehend all the important things that are going on. Ironically, it’s as easy as ever for people to offer the excuse — “we didn’t know what was actually going on.”
Thanks to St. Matthew, we don’t have that excuse when it comes to the Holy Innocents. We know what happened, and why.
And, in the same way, a sacred obligation has fallen on us to make sure that the stories of the modern-day Innocents are told.
The world increasingly wants us pro-lifers to sit down and be quiet, to allow business as usual to go on unimpeded by awkward questions about abortion and euthanasia. Ambitious and value-free politicians call for a “moratorium” on discussions about “social issues” so that money and power can be divided up.
“There has to be a record,” wrote the late J.P. McFadden, the great founder of the indispensable Human Life Review. “No one should be able to say, whatever happens, that they didn’t know what’s actually going on here.”
I’ve recently been reading through a book published by the Human Life Review, entitled The Debate Since Roe: Making the Case Against Abortion 1975-2010. It should be required reading for anyone who wishes to serve in public office or comment on public affairs.
It preserves the record of how we’ve gotten to where we are today — how our culture has tried to suppress the truth, to ignore the voices of the Innocents, to send them down the “memory hole”. But it also tells of the heroic efforts of many others who refuse to allow the record to be erased, who refuse to allow these lost children to be forgotten.
Generations to come will look back on this age and be astonished that we permitted the slaughter of millions of innocent children. But the only reason they will know about it is that there is a record.
Nobody will be able to say that they don’t know what’s actually going on here.