Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

1 Jn 1:5-2:2; Ps 124:2-5, 7cd-8; Mt 2:13-18


Christ, the newborn king, was not welcome by the king.  King Herod was deeply threatened by the news brought by the Magi.  There was no room for any other king in Judea.  If the LORD had not been with him, Joseph and Mary, the fury of Herod would have swallowed them alive.  Then the floodwaters of destruction would have overwhelmed them.  But the angel spoke again to Saint Joseph in a dream and the snare of Herod was broken and the Holy Family was set free.  Indeed the payer of this psalm was the prayer in the hearts of The Lord Jesus and his Mother and Saint Joseph, “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”  Even though King Herod lied to the magi to kill the Christ Child, the darkness in his heart did not overwhelm the Light born in his kingdom.  The prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled in the weeping of those mothers who lost their sons for the sake of the Son of God who would save all sons and daughters from everlasting death.  Much blood has been shed in this Octave of Christmas from the blood of Saint Stephen to the blood of the Holy Innocents.  Today’s witnesses of the Newborn King make our celebration of Christmas an adult feast.  In our childlike faith we grow more and more willing to lay down our lives, to witness to the Lord Jesus, without hesitation and without regret.


At the very beginning of his life among us the Lord Jesus is the Light of the world, and his coming is an impossible threat to the darkness of Herod and all tyrants.  Some there are, even today, who claim to have fellowship with darkness and still remain in the light.  However, those who walk in darkness to hide their sins and violence are only fooling themselves.  The darkness is not dark for Christ and for him the night is as clear as the day.  All who walk in the light of the Truth have fellowship with one another, and they live in the freedom of the children of God because the Blood of Christ has cleansed them from all sin.  All who say, “We are without sin” are caught up in the lie of the evil one.  If we do not acknowledge our sins, we will never know the power of forgiveness and we will never be cleansed from every evil.  If we say, “we have not sinned,” we deny the truth of the gospel and we make a lie out of Christ preaching.  All descendants of the Old Adam have inherited his disobedience and even after Baptism we still have a tendency to long for our own will and desire to have it our own way.  By his preaching Christ Our God confronts the evil one and his kingdom of darkness.  He takes on our broken humanity, paralyzed by the deception of sin and evil, and he lifts us up and strengthens our drooping knees.  Saint John’s letter is written so that we may not live in that darkness nor propagate those lies.  However, even if we do sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the truly righteous Son of God and son of Mary.  The Lord Jesus is the First Advocate, and he sends the Holy Spirit as our Second Advocate to stand by our side in every persecution.  This great act of redemption is for us and not for us only, but for the whole world.


Again the angel of the Lord appears to Saint Joseph in a dream to command him, “flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you.”  In his first dream encounter with the messenger of the Lord Saint Joseph is commanded to take the Virgin with Child into his home as his wife.  Saint Joseph is obedient, even when he doesn’t understand all that’s being asked of him.  Not understanding is no excuse for disobedience.  The Magi were likewise obedient to the angel who revealed King Herod’s true intension.  The angels protected the Magi and the Holy Family from the furious and fearful Herod. His command to massacre all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under satisfied his lust for power.  However, the Christ Child survived his fury.  King Herod had no power over the Holy Family.  He had no power to destroy the true King of Israel and all the nations.  This so called king of Israel tried to kill the only one who could offer him life, eternal life.  This confused and self-deceptive tyrant may not have succeeded in destroying the King of Kings, but such tyrants still survive and sometimes succeed.  The tyrants of our own day are still suspicious of the Lord Jesus and his Holy Family, the Church.  Still the innocent die for the sake of the almighty “right to privacy” recently read into our constitution by those who would define a woman’s dignity by her right to kill the child within her womb.  Such communal blindness and social deception have a tyrannical grip upon the unborn children of our nation and the whole world.  Still those who have power only destroy their own future by their command to massacre the innocent.  The “fearful kings” of our time make a mother’s womb the most unsafe place in the world.  Still we need the cleansing power of the Blood of the Lamb to rescue us from our own self-deception and self-destruction.  Still, a voice is heard throughout the world, sobbing and loud lamentation.  Still the innocent children and their deceived mothers and fathers weep for their massacred children, and they would not be consoled, since they were no more.