‘The execution was sad, cruel and universal: no abatements made for the dire shriekings of the mothers, no tender-hearted soldier was employed, no hard-hearted person was softened by the weeping eyes, and pity-begging looks of those mothers, that wondered how it was possible any person should hurt their pretty sucklings; no connivances there, no protections, or friendships, or consideration, or indulgences, but Herod caused that his own child which was at nurse in the coasts of Bethlehem, should bleed to death; which made Augustus Caesar to say, that in Herod’s house it were better to be a hog than a child, because the custom of the nation did secure a hog from Herod’s knife, but no religion could secure his child.
Jesus, when himself was safe, could also have secured the poor babes of Bethlehem, but yet it did not so please God. He is Lord of his creatures, and hath absolute dominion over our lives, and he had an end of glory to serve upon these babes, and an end of justice upon Herod; and to the children he made such compensation, that they had no reason to complain that they were so soon made stars, when they shined in their little orbs and participations of eternity, for so the sense of the Church hath been that they having died the death of martyrs, though incapable of making the choice, God supplied the defects of their will, by his own entertainment of the thing; that as the misery and their death, so also their glorification might have the same author in the same manner of causality; even by a peremptory and unconditioned determination in these particulars’.
Jeremy Taylor, 1613-1667 (Anglican Bishop of Down and Connor 1661-1667)
Almighty God, who out of the mouths of babes and nurslings hast ordained strength, and madest infants to glorify thee by their deaths: mortify and kill all vices in us; and so strengthen us by thy grace, that by the innocency of our lives, and constancy of our faith, even unto death, we may glorify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon