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A Carol for 1938 and 2012 – By L. A. MacKay

January 2, 2013

In the Church Year, we remember the massacre of the Holy Innocents on December 28 or January 11, and see in it both a brutal demonstration of the darkness and pain of the broken world into which Our Lord, the Light of the world, came; and a prefiguring of the cost he was going to pay willingly for its Redemption.

Embedded below is a poem about the violence in our world: “Carol for 1938” by Canadian poet L. A. MacKay (1901-1982). If we were to update this to “Carol for 2012,” we could, perhaps, change the places “Barcelona” and “Chungking” to “Newtown” and “Aleppo.” Otherwise, the poem – like the story of the massacre of the Holy Innocents in the Gospel of Matthew – tragically would be as timely today as when MacKay penned it.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie;
Above thy dark and silent streets
L. A. MacKayThe bombing planes go by.

O babes of Barcelona,
Children of far Chungking
To you what hideous anthems,
What herald angels sing

Of men set in high places,
In politic pretence
Slaying, and seeking out to slay
The holy Innocents.

Oh in how many hearts of men
Is kept the ghastly tryst
Where, on the grieving Christmas tree
Hangs crucified, the Christ. 

With our hearts grieving at the loss of the life of each Holy Innocent child in our world, let us rededicate ourselves to give every ounce of strength we have – to pay whatever the cost – to fulfill the herald angels’ message of peace on earth and love and light shared among all.

My December 30, 2011 posting on the massacre of the Holy Innocents, “A Prayer for All God’s Suffering Children,” can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

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