Holy Innocents Day | The Sunday after Christmas
On the morning of Christmas Day 1626, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral London rose to preach. He said these words:
The whole life of Christ was a continual passion; others die martyrs, but Christ was born a martyr.
The fourth day of Christmas is another reminder of this truth. Etched into the church calendar for today is the feast of The Innocents, remembering the children slaughtered in Bethlehem by order of Herod in his search for the infant messiah (recalled in the Coventry Carol), and the Son of God was taken into exile. A refugee. It is a day that quickly shatters idealized accounts of the peace proclaimed at Christ’s nativity. Instead we learn that this is a peace which will be wrought through Christ’s victory over the powers which effected such suffering in Bethlehem, and continue to rage this day.
By circumstance, today is also the Sunday after Christmas. Within Christian tradition, Sundays have always been a little Easter, the day of Christ’s resurrection from the dead and triumph over the powers. By bearing the whole Christ event in mind, we are able to celebrate and feast, even on this day.