December 29, 2016 11 Comments
I’m back, but it was a late night and I’ve nothing prepared, so mostly this will be one more of Jessica’s, but not a happy one. It is also a day after our churches celebrate the Slaughter of the Innocents. Some of those churches, it must be said, with their eyes tight closed to what they propose. But this is one thing most of us agree on, and so a bit from me, and also a bit from my friend Chalcedon at the Watchtower
Indeed, before the advent of Christianity, human life was generally held cheap. The death rate among new-borns was high, and there would have been few families at the time who did not have the experience of losing a baby, and even a mother, in child-birth. But the massacre of little children was something else – it was seen as barbarous, even in barbarous times. Quite what even barbarous times would make of the modern West’s habit of mass abortions, who can tell? To those without an ideological blindness to it, the practice is appalling, and it is no accident that the abortion industry does not want the details of what goes on inside its clinics more widely spread; few, surely, can read the detail without a feeling of nausea? But such is the state of our ‘civilization’ that now only the Catholic Church holds the line firmly here. The same faith which told the world that even the life of a slave was worth the same as that of an Emperor in the eyes of God, tells an unheeding world that the life of every child in the womb is valued in those same eyes. It holds to a high view of the worth of human life in a world where, increasingly, it is seen as having variable value. The unborn, the handicapped (yes, don’t use the word, but do defend aborting such babies whilst they are in the womb – never forget words are all that matter) and the elderly, especially the elderly who are unwell, all of these lives have a different value to those of the ordinary person of working age upon whom health services can spend a small fortune to keep alive and as fit as possible. All lives matter, but some matter far more than others.
Chalcedon is speaking of Britain, in the States, the Catholic church has some allies, parts of the Anglican and the Lutheran churches are allies, as are a fair number of evangelicals, why any Christian is not is well beyond my ken.
And here is Jessica:
Today is the day on which the Church remembers the massacre of the Innocents as recorded in Matthew 2:13-23.
Verse 15 refers to words of Hosea 11:1: “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.” Just as Israel was preserved from destruction in Egypt, so God’s Son, the hope of Israel, is preserved from destruction; but just as the first-born of Egypt died, so now, do the first born of Israel.
Verses 17 and 18 refer to Jeremiah 31:15
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”
Rachel, the wife of Jacob and thus the mother of Israel, is depicted by the prophet mourning over her descendants who have been slaughtered by the Babylonians. But if we take the whole of Jeremiah 30-33 we can see that either side of these lamentations there is the looking forward to the new Covenant, the new era which the coming of the Messiah will inaugurate.
St. Matthew, steeped as he was in the Jewish Scriptures, sees the parallel for us – that out of this destruction there will come a new life; Jesus is the fulfilment of the words of the prophets. At the end of the chapter there is a reference to Isaiah 11:1, where Jesus, the ‘Stem of Jesse’, the ‘Branch’, and also to Isaiah 6:13 where, after God had cut down the tree of Israel, a little stump was left from which a branch would grow.
Suffering, like the poor, is with us always, and in so far as we alleviate the suffering of the poor, we do it for and to Christ, because he is in every one of us, and we are in his image. Death is something which comes to us all, even if our society conspires to hide the fact. I never knew my mother, who died soon after I was born, and that is a sorrow, but it is one which is in the natural order of things, which is what makes the massacre of the Innocents the more shocking, because it runs against the natural order in two ways: the child dying before the parent, and adults killing rather than caring for children. What can comfort a mother for the loss of her child? And yet in our time, many mothers choose not to have their child, and society, so anxious to shield us from the reality of our own mortality, turns a blind eye and uses smooth words to condone infanticide. We should not, we cannot and must not, judge women who come to that place; we cannot know what drove them there, and everyone is different. But we can lament the slaughter, for that is what it is. If they truly knew what it was they did, then many would not do it.
We have moved from a society which accepted (because it had no choice) that infant mortality would be high, through one which sought to end that situation, to one where we routinely abort millions of children in the name of a spurious ‘right to choose’. I say spurious because no one asks the child in the womb, who gets no choice at all. So, on this feast of the massacre of the Holy innocents, let us pray for all those afflicted by this modern curse of abortion – including the women concerned.
And this, more than any other factor, is why those who would like us to call them pro-choice are not, they are part of a very ancient cult: the cult of death. They think it proper to slaughter babies, even before they are born, which to my mind at least makes them even worse than Herod, himself. Humans have a tendency to murder each other for very little reason, it took Christianity almost 2000 years to mostly end this practice, if not the desire, now we seem to be slipping back. And yes, voluntary euthanasia is simply more of the same horrible sauce.
But there are encouraging signs, abortion in the US is lower than at any time since 1971, two years before Roe v. Wade. That is something to give thanks for, for it is indeed a good start. But outlawing the practice is not really enough, the problem is that there are people that think such barbarity is acceptable. We
are, can be, must be better than this.