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Reflections on the readings for the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28, 2019): 1 JN 1:5–2:2; PS 124:2-3,4-5,7-8; MT 2:13-18
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
On this feast, we venerate the youngest and earliest martyrs for Christ – the Holy Innocents.
Unlike St. Stephen who willingly embraced death in order to stay true to our Lord, these innocent infants endured their martyrdom in place of Jesus. The wicked, jealous King Herod was determined to destroy the new King of the Jews. When the Magi told Herod why they were journeying to Bethlehem in search of this Child, they did not realize the evil Herod would unleash. And when Herod realized that the Magi were not returning to tell him who and where the new King was, he condemned all the babies in that region to death. “Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more” (Matthew 2:17-18). This quote speaks of Rachel, the wife of Jacob, grieving for a later generation of Jews who were forcibly gathered at Ramah before being led away into the desolation of the Babylonian captivity.
Moreover, the brutal massacre of these Holy Innocents achieved nothing for King Herod. At the direction of an angel, Joseph took Mary and Jesus into safety in Egypt. In the wake of that cruelty we see that God will always triumph, but not without suffering and hardship in this world of ours, even for the most blameless and vulnerable. Today, we must do all we can to stand up for those in greatest need of protection, especially children.