Christ the Holy Innocent

Our Lady of Walsingham in the Chapel of St George and the English Martyrs, Westminster Cathedral, London.

In different Eucharistic miracles Christ has shown different aspects of his Paschal Mystery to us. Some that I first found strange were of the Child Jesus. I read of them in the book “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World”, published in 2009. At Skete in the Egyptian desert a priest bent to break the Host, and in place of the Host a Child appeared there, who was then pierced by the sword of an angel. His blood ran into the chalice and pieces were cut from Him by the sword when the priest broke the Bread. At Douai in France a Host dropped at the distribution of Communion. A priest bent to pick up the Eucharist but it flew up, landed on the purificator, and changed into a Child. When the Bishop came to see, he then saw on the same Host the Face of Christ crowned with thorns and bleeding. At Veroli, Italy, during a Forty Hours’ devotion the Child Jesus appeared in the Host and granted blessings. At Eten in Peru, during solemn exposition, the face of a Child appeared, radiant, in the Host. In Moncada, Spain, a little girl – St. Ines de Moncada – saw a priest lifting the Host after the consecration and saw him cradling a Child in his hands. In Saragossa, Spain, a woman hid the Eucharist in a box to use for a potion, and when she opened it she saw an Infant. She burned the box with the Child inside, but the Child was unscathed.

What does it all mean?

We are taught in Hebrews that the first act of Christ when he was incarnated into the world was to consecrate His will to the Father in total obedience: “Behold, I come to do Thy will, O God.” In fact we are taught that the very act of obedience in humbling himself to become man was sufficient for the salvation of the world. The Word became flesh (we kneel) and the victory is won.

So too with the blood of Christ shed at his Circumcision, which was enough to merit our Heavenly reward. Also with the offering of Christ in the Presentation, where Christ became in the Temple a greater offering than all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant put together and sufficient to save Israel and all nations in every time.

Now we know that these were sufficient and infinitely meritorious and superabundantly worthy. Each individual act of Christ in His earthly life – every obedience to His parents, for example – done as it was in perfect accord with the will of the Father, could also be said to have the same infinite value. Every prayer He offered up to God would have secured us salvation. Every time the Holy Ghost descends upon an altar and incarnates Christ at Mass, this, too, is enough to save us all. One Mass can save the entire world.

Christ once suffered a narrow escape from death as a child. The Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, murdered in Herod’s diabolical plan to assassinate the Christ, were the infant-martyrs of Christ, foreshadowed by the killing of the firstborn in Egypt, themselves foreshadowing the violent death of their little King, and today prefiguring the horror of abortion. Had St. Joseph not been obedient to God’s warning to flee to Egypt, Jesus could have been murdered with them. He would have been one killed among many, victim of the base and power-hungry, dying by the side of His Blessed Mother, His Sacred Heart speared, His Body anointed with the myrrh brought just recently by the Magi, His swaddling cloths used for burial cloths, His cross a cradle.

It would have been our iniquities that pierced His tiny Heart. It would have been His infant sacrifice that won us Heaven. It would have been enough to save us all.

God planned it differently, of course. But Christ’s whole life forms one perfect act of obedience and oblation and one Passion. So the infant Jesus is truly sacrificed. His Heart is unchanging with the selfsame innocence and tenderness in childhood as in manhood. He rules all the world from the lap of Mary his mother. The priest truly cradles the newborn King in His hands at Mass. It is a reality that shines through in these Eucharistic miracles.

The sacrifice of the Holy Innocents themselves is united with Christ and becomes His martyrdom, too, for the salvation of the world. Every one of those tiny faces passing into death is Christ’s face cradled by the Sorrowful Mother below the Cross.

Christ is the Holy Innocent. Only by fixing our eyes on Him, in His Eucharist, will we be raised to holiness, restored to innocence, and prepared for martyrdom.

Advertisements