The Holy Innocents were martyrs for Christ while He was a baby just as they were
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of the Holy Innocents (December 28, 2022): 1 JN 1:5--2:2; PS 124:2-3,4-5,7-8; MT 2:13-18
MISSIO offers “Mission In Scripture” to nurture a missionary heart, providing reflections on the missionary themes in the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
The arrogant wickedness of King Herod demanded their deaths as he sought to kill the “newborn King of the Jews.” (Matthew 2:2)
The story of the Holy Innocents is one necessary for us to hear as difficult as it may be. Seeking the newborn King whom they had followed a star to worship, the Magi sought information from what they no doubt expected to be an interested and useful source: Herod the Great, King of the Jews. He was certainly interested and useful to them, but not in a way they could have imagined. He asked the chief priests and scribes for help and was told that prophecies had said that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of such a ruler. Herod told the Magi to go there and to let him know if they were successful, so that he could go and worship as well. Of course, we know that he planned to have the Holy Infant killed to prevent Him from what he would have considered usurping his throne. Our Eternal Father intervened by sending an angel to direct Joseph to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt. But the fear, pride, and envy of Herod drove him to evil of a horrific nature. The baby boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem were brutally murdered. Thirty-some years later, Jesus Christ would be mocked by the soldiers torturing Him as King of the Jews. A sign proclaiming that title would even be nailed on the cross. They could not understand that He was and is King, but His Kingdom is not of this world.
In the first reading today we learn: “This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. … My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world” (1 John 1:5--2:1-2). Our sins are not likely to be as truly appalling as those of Herod against the Holy Innocents, but they are sins, nonetheless. They draw us away from God, from light and love. But in Christ we are healed, if we open ourselves to His grace-filled mercy.
Suggested missionary action: Let us ask the Holy Innocents to protect the babies in our own family and community as well as those around the world. We can especially pray for those who suffer from illness, poverty, abuse, or any other suffering. Let us also ask their intercession for the protection of all unborn babies -- and grace and guidance for their mothers and fathers.