12.28.17 Thurs. Christmas Season – (II)
Feast of Holy Innocents, Martyrs
1st Rdg – 1st Letter of St. John 1: 5 – 2: 2
Gospel Matthew 2: 13 – 18
When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,* and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. 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.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Victory Over Evil
The contradiction between the goodness of God and the presence of evil is baffling. In the first Letter of John, the Apostle writes: “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all…If we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another…He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us of every wrongdoing” (1 Jn. 1:5ff).
We contrast this description of God with the violent killings of innocent children by King Herod. He did not choose “light” and “life”; he chose to act out of fear, pride and malice. Here was a king so afraid of losing power, so angry at being deceived by the Magi and humiliated in front of his advisors that he killed toddlers and infants. Unfortunately, this kind of evil rears its ugly head far too often. The abortion industry depends on the fear and humiliation of women to kill their unborn children.
Today’s feast does not celebrate the killing of innocent babies by King Herod. It celebrates the victory of those innocent lives over evil. They have victory because of the person Herod sought to destroy: †Jesus. In this passage from the First Letter of John, we read: “We have an advocate with the Father, †Jesus Christ, the righteous one” (1 John 2:2). To the Semitic mind, a “righteous” person is someone without guile; a person who does not deceive, but speaks the truth; someone who keeps their promises and who does what they say. If we believe that †Jesus conquered death then we see these Innocents as victorious. They live for eternity in the loving arms of God. Those who perpetuate evil spend eternity in pain and anguish.
There is no crown of victory without the Cross. Suffering in this life takes many forms: illness, disease, disabilities, emotional trauma, slander, abuse, poverty and injustice. All of these will come to an end because the sacrifice of †Jesus won eternal life for us. We see this paradox in the life of Mary. She was “blessed among women”. Her “blessedness” would also be a sword; her heart would be pierced by sorrow. When she and Joseph had to escape to Egypt one can only imagine the fear she felt. But her fear did not lead to destructive behavior, it lead to deeper faith and trust in God. At times in her life, Mary felt more sorrow than blessedness. However, because of her faith, her joy was not diminished by the sorrow. Mary always trusted in the promises of the Lord; the righteous One.
In our Heart of †Jesus Prayer Garden, behind the church, we have a sculpting of †Jesus cradling a baby in His arms. He is also holding the hand of the mother. His look of compassion strengthens her. He is telling her that He will hold her baby in his arms until that time when she joins Him in heaven. †Jesus will then return her child to her arms.
For the many women and parents who have lost children by miscarriage, abortion or have had to bury a child, this grotto is for them. When their children leave them †Jesus seamlessly takes them in His arms. The “weeping of Rachel” finds consolation in the Resurrection and we must also. In the midst of sorrow, tragedy or unspeakable violence let your eyes of faith look forward to the Risen Christ, holding your loved ones in His arms.
“We have an advocate with the Father, †Jesus Christ, the righteous one” (1 John 2:2)
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.