The poem from my Anthology Waiting on the Word reflects on the fact that today, the fourth day of Christmas, is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. It is the day the Church remembers the story, told in Matthew’s Gospel of the appalling cruelty and wickedness of Herod in ordering the massacre of innocent children, in a bid to protect his own power-base. Appalling, but only too familiar. What Herod did then, is still being done by so many present day Herods. This scarred and wounded world is the world into which Jesus was born, the world he came to save, and amongst those brought by his blood through the grave and gate of death and into the bliss of Heaven are those children of Bethlehem who died for his name without ever knowing him. But he knows them, as he knows and loves every child in Syria, and he says of them, to every Herod, ‘Whatsoever ye do unto the least of these, ye do it unto me.’
You can hear me read this poem by clicking on the title or the play button. the image above was created by Linda Richardson. she writes:
Last year we thought nothing could be worse than seeing the bodies of refugees wash up on the beaches of Europe. This year the awful news of the destruction of Aleppo and its people breaks in upon our TV screens and hearts. Sometimes we feel that our own personal safety and comfort should be denied, after all, with so many millions of people suffering, do we have a right to personal happiness? It must be a question that so many of us ask ourselves. Of course we do not have the right to personal safety and happiness but these events give us the opportunity for generosity and gratitude.
The image is self explanatory, a nameless and homeless family, and Malcolm reminds us in his sonnet that Jesus was born into just such a situation. There is nothing new in murderous power and bloodshed and we must allow the pain of it to sing in our blood as we pray the psalms on behalf of our refugee brothers and sister, “O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me…deliver me.”
You can find you can find the words, and a short reflective essay on this poem in Waiting on the Word, which is now also available on Kindle
This sonnet has been adapted and set powerfully to Music by Steve Bell on his Album Keening For The Dawn. It was also quoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Christmas Sermon two years ago.
As always you can hear this sonnet by pressing the ‘play’ button, if it appears, or clicking on the title.
We think of him as safe beneath the steeple,
Or cosy in a crib beside the font,
But he is with a million displaced people
On the long road of weariness and want.
For even as we sing our final carol
His family is up and on that road,
Fleeing the wrath of someone else’s quarrel,
Glancing behind and shouldering their load.
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.
6 responses to “The Holy Innocents (Refugee)”
Tensile, like the steel still maintaining building structures in what is left of Syrian cities…
Our parish and village support fundraising for MSF’s work in Syria. For me personally, the projects require graft, tact and endeavour … Like many Creaky Oldies of my generation I ask ‘ Does this really work/prove useful?’
Here, when I need it, we need it, is inspiration.
Pingback: HOLY INNOCENTS – DEACON
A poetic reminder of the terrors of war and the plight of refugees; it, moved me to tears and although I am ill (24 years so far) with a debilitating illness, I pray and sign petitions and send money to aid all refugees.
Your links to me uphold me and inspire me greatly. Thank you from a full heart.
Thanks. I’m sorry to hear about your illness but I’m so glad this poem strengthened your calling to be an advocate for refugees
Pingback: “Fleeing the Wrath of Someone Else’s Quarrel” | Intersections: Thoughts on Religion, Culture, and Politics