King Herod gave orders to kill all the boys near Bethlehem who were two years old and younger. In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had foretold came true: A sound of mothers weeping is heard. Matthew 2: 16, 17, 18
Why do you tear from me my darling son, the fruit of my womb?
It was I who bore him, my breast he drank.
My womb carried him about, my vitals he sucked, my heart he filled.
He was my life, tis death to have him taken from me
My strength has ebbed, my speech is silenced, my eyes are blinded.
Then another woman said:
… Infants you slay,
The fathers you wound, the mothers you kill.
Hell with your deed is full, Heaven is shut,
You have spilt the blood of guiltless innocents.
And yet another woman said
O Christ, come to me!
With my son take my soul quickly!
O great Mary, mother of God’s Son,
What shall I do without my son?
For your Son my spirit and sense are killed.
I am become a crazy woman for my son.
After the piteous slaughter
My heart is a clot of blood
From this day till Doom.
11th Century, Anonymous
The vivid Celtic imagination transposed the agony of the Bethlehem killings into their own breasts. Which situations in our world demand that we do the same? Who are the weak whom we need to defend against the tyranny of the strong in our sphere of action?
High King of the universe
By choosing to be born as a child
You teach us to reverence every human life
May we never despise, degrade or destroy it.
Rather, help us sustain and preserve it