The Massacre of the Innocents is at Matthew 2:16–18, although the preceding verses form the context:
When the Magi had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up, he said, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old or under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
On December 29, over 50 people from the Atlantic and Southern Life Communities held a nonviolent witness at the Pentagon to commemorate the feast of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents (the actual feast was on Sunday, December 28). The noon-time witness began with a procession in which participants carried banners and signs from Army Navy Drive to the designated “protest” area located near the Pentagon south metro entrance. The lead banner, carried by young adults, read: “Peace To All Children of the Earth.” Upon our arrival we encountered a sizeable Pentagon police presence who directed everyone to go into the fenced off designated protest area. Ten did not comply and proceeded farther along the building side of the sidewalk holding a large banner that said “Wage Peace–Practice Nonviolence.” I also held a sign which said “Love Your Neighbor Means Don’t Bomb, Occupy and Kill Them!” At first, it appeared the ten of us would be stopped. But surprisingly, we were able to move farther down the sidewalk so that we could face the rest of the community who were directly across from us behind the fence in the police designated protest area.
Upon giving a brief explanation about our witness, the police gave the first of several orders for the ten of us to leave the sidewalk or face arrest. The Gospel account of the massacre of the Holy Innocents was then read (see above). This was followed by a Litany remembering all those who have been massacred–past and present- by the Herod’s of our world, with a particular focus on those who have been slaughtered by U.S. military forces. We began by recalling that in 1890, on this very day, the 7th Calvary Regiment slaughtered nearly 300 Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee Creek. We then enumerated contemporary U.S. massacres and remembered and prayed for all victims of our warmaking empire and all victims of violence. After each prayer the community responded: “God Forgive US!” As we concluded the Litany, the police gave the last warning and began to place the ten under arrest. As the ten of us were being handcuffed we sang the song “A Voice Is Heard In Ramah.” The arrested were then taken by police to the Pentagon police processing center, which once upon a time served as a day care center.
Following the arrests, the community witness continued which included an offering of New Year’s Resolutions for a nonviolent world–where the triple evils of militarism, racism and poverty are eradicated, where all life, creation and our environment are revered as sacred, where all weapons–from nuclear weapons to killer drones to guns of all sorts are dismantled, and where war is abolished, racial hatred, discrimination and torture ceases, economic justice is established and the human rights of all people are upheld, especially for the poor, the imprisoned and the immigrants. The witness ended with a closing circle and the singing of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”
The ten who were arrested were processed and charged with “Failure to Comply With a Lawful Order.” All were released and are scheduled to appear for a March 19 court date at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.