Octave of Christmas (28th December, 2018)
Feast of Holy Innocents
First Reading: 1 Jn 1:5 – 2:2 (Sacrificial victim)
Gospel: Mt 2:13-18 (Herod kills children)
The scriptures abound with examples of incidents which show that God’s promises and plans never remain unfulfilled. The scriptures too bear witness to it. To take for example, we see in the incidents of proceedings at Exodus, we see how Pharaoh seeks to thwart the plan of God to lead people through Promised Land. However, we do see that God’s plan supersedes all evil designs and desires.
Today we heard the account of massacre of the innocents at the time of or at the order of King Herod. At the first look, it looks totally unjustifiable. A big question that would arise in our heats is Why God allowed so many innocents to die? Could he not mystically change the heart of King Herod or bring about some destruction on him instead of letting these innocents die? We can remind ourselves of a similar incident that took place at the birth of Moses too. At that time, Pharaoh brought about the death of all the first born of the Israelite’s.
Whatever gruesome picture this narration of today’s reading may give us, we do realise that God’s promises and his plans never remain unfulfilled. It was God’s will that salvation should be brought through his Son for His people. The Old Testament already provides references to the coming Messiah, Saviour, and Redeemer. For example, we find the first reference to a coming Redeemer in the curse of the serpent immediately following the fall into sin (Genesis 3: 15). The author of the epistle to the Hebrews sees a reference to Jesus Christ in the acts of the royal priest Melchizedek, who brought Abraham bread and wine and blessed him (Genesis 14: 17-20; Hebrews 7). Micah announced the place of the Lord’s birth: “But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting” (Micah 5: 2). Apostle Paul expressly attests to Christ’s presence during their wandering through the desert: “Our fathers … all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10: 1-4).
As these prophesies are about to get fulfilled, we see King Herod tries by all means to thwart God’s plan and the means he chooses in a horrific manner with all intent to ensure that no rival king survives in his kingdom against him but God has another way to bring about victory over evil. God, as he prophesied early through Prophet Hosea saying, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos 11:1). Thus God employs Joseph to fulfil this prophecy by asking him to take the child to Egypt and stay there till he is asked to come back. So through the obedient and helping person of Joseph, God saves Jesus to save the humanity from all sinful nature.
The feast of Holy innocent gives us two lessons. They are: God’s plan always get fulfilled and secondly we can, like St Joseph participate in humble and even subtle ways to bring about his plan come true. At times, these incidents that happen in and around us may be tough and difficult but God has some plan for us to ensure bringing about his power and majesty. As St Paul says, “And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28). This feast is in a way to be hopeful in the situations that may be disturbing to us both personally and socially. It helps us increase in our faith in Him as He alone can bring about His promise made through His son for all of us i.e., “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not die but receive eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Amen.