Thursday, 28 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we remember the memory of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, those young children of the place where the Lord and Saviour of the world was born, in Bethlehem, the City of David. The children were killed by the order of the king of Judea, Herod the Great, who was the ruler of the land of the time.

King Herod wanted to get rid of Jesus because the three Magi came to him asking him about the King Who was to come into the world, and they followed the Star of Bethlehem to the territory of Judea, Herod’s kingdom at the time. Herod himself came to power, according to history, through deceit and corrupt practices, including collaborating with the Romans that he was rewarded with the kingship over Judea and Samaria, and many other lands.

As a result, we can only deduce that Herod was immediately jealous and afraid of the Baby Jesus, Who was born as King, and as the True King of Israel. As Jesus is the King of Israel and indeed over the whole creation, Herod was merely a usurper and therefore, he was nobody. Yet, Herod wanted to preserve his power, kingship and privileges as king, and thus, instead of humbly recognising the true King, he plotted to have his rival destroyed.

That was why he tried to trick the three Magi to give him the location and information about the Messiah and King, but the Angel of God led the three Magi through another way, that Jesus was kept safe from the plots of Herod. That was when the Angel of God also led St. Joseph to bring both Mary and the Baby Jesus to Egypt, to keep him safe from His enemies. Herod was angry as he was not able to get his hands on Jesus, and ordered the massacre of all the babies and young children in Bethlehem aged two years old and younger.

Thus, today we remembered the memory of those innocent children who were martyred for the sake of the Lord, innocent victims of humanity’s greed and desire for power, for worldly glory and might, as displayed by king Herod and his attempt to kill Jesus the true King, and sacrificing many innocent people in the process. And therefore, we should spend some time to reflect about ourselves and our own lives, considering what had happened that day in Bethlehem.

Let us remember all the mothers and parents who lost their young children and babies because of the ambition and pride of humanity, as what happened in that occasion in Bethlehem. But we should not forget about the many other children and families affected in the same manner, throughout the world and throughout history. There are many other instances where many innocent ones suffered.

Let us remember all those young children and innocent ones who were manipulated into suffering, through vile practices that sadly still exist to this very day, as it was in the past, such as child labour, even child slavery and abuse, as well as the use of underage people in warfare and conflicts. This is the sad and wicked reality of our world today, just as it had happened to us mankind in the past.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all do our best as Christians, to stand up for the sake of the innocent children and all those who have been caught up in the midst of warfare, conflict, sufferings, abuse and many others, all because of our own human greed and desire for power, for prestige, for glory, for more wealth and influence in this world. Let us all put an end to these vile works if we ourselves have done them, or have taken part in them, and if we have been silent all these while, let us speak up for their sake.

Let us remember, that all these innocent children are also children of God, beloved and dear to Him, just as all of us are. We must not allow any forms of abuse or mistreatment of these people, who are indeed our brethren and relatives. God will show His wrath to those who are mistreating and abusing His beloved ones, and they will suffer the consequences of their actions at the time of their judgment.

During this Christmas season, let us return to the Lord and make Him once again the focus and the centre of our lives. Let us not be swayed by the temptation of worldly glory, power and prestige, wealth or any other forms of persuasions, which had brought so many of our brethren down into the trap laid down by Satan, through which he endeavoured to make us mankind fight one against the other, and oppress our brethren.

May the Lord our God forgive us our trespasses, and all that we have caused our brethren, to suffer and to be in pain, or for our ignorance of their need and our deafness to their pleas for help. May we all become ever more courageous to live faithfully in accordance with our faith. May God bless us always, now and forever. Amen.

Thursday, 28 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Matthew 2 : 13-18

After the wise men had left, an Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Get up, take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon be looking for the Child in order to kill Him.”

Joseph got up, took the Child and His mother, and left that night for Egypt, where He stayed until the death of Herod. In this way, what the Lord had said through the prophet was fulfilled : I called My Son out of Egypt.

When Herod found out that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old or under. This was done in line with what he had learnt from the wise men about the time when the star appeared.

In this way, what the prophet Jeremiah had said was fulfilled : A cry is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation : Rachel weeps for her children. She refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.

Thursday, 28 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Psalm 123 : 2-3, 4-5, 7cd-8

Had not the Lord been on our side, when people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive; such was their anger against us.

A bit more and the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.

The snare was broken and we were freed. Our help is in the Name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

Thursday, 28 December 2017 : Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Red

1 John 1 : 5 – 1 John 2 : 2

We heard His message from Him and announce it to you : God is light and there is no darkness in Him. If we say we are in fellowship with Him, while we walk in darkness, we lie instead of being in truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we are in fellowship with one another, and the Blood of Jesus, the Son of God, purifies us from all sin.

If we say, “We have no sin,” we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He Who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from our wickedness. If we say that we do not sin, we make God a liar, His word is not in us.

My little children, I write to you that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an Intercessor with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just One. He is the sacrificial Victim for our sins and the sins of the whole world.