Monday, 28 December 2020 : Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, remembering all those innocent children and infants of the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the place of Our Lord’s birth, who had perished and died at the order of king Herod the Great in his futile attempt to remove and destroy the Lord as his rival King. King Herod feared the Lord and did not want Him to overthrow him and thus, he tried in vain to remove this threat.

King Herod tyrannically ordered the slaughter of all those children and infants below the age of two years old, selfishly and jealously trying to protect his own power and rule, and he would not hold back even in trying to destroy innocent lives. In doing so, he had made martyrs out of all those infants and children, the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem. The Holy Innocents of Bethlehem are in our thoughts today as we celebrate their memories.

We may then be wondering why is it that God Who is loving and kind, compassionate and merciful would allow for such a terrible deed to be committed. Some of us may wonder that the Lord could have intervened for the sake of those little and innocent children, could He not? Indeed, as God is Almighty, such a deed would have been easily done, and He could have struck king Herod easily.

But the Lord did not do that, just as He did not strike us down when we sinned, immediately at the moment of our sins. Do we remember Adam and Eve, our very first ancestors who disobeyed God in the Gardens of Eden? If God had wanted to destroy them for their sins, they very well could have done so, but the Lord has given them free will, and since they consciously chose to listen to the devil instead of Him, thus they had to suffer the consequences of their action and choice.

And in the end, God Who created them out of love would not destroy His beloved ones but gave us all the opportunity and chance to repent and turn away from the sins we had committed. King Herod in his futile efforts to destroy his rival in the King of kings, Jesus, had committed grave sin from his own conscious choice, succumbing to his pride, desire and greed, and he abused the free will given to him by God, causing untold suffering in others.

Therefore, the great tragedy that happened in the massacre of the infants and children of Bethlehem was caused by none other than our own corrupt ambitions and desires, our wicked and evil attitudes, which led us down to the path of destruction and for whatever we have committed in sin against God, we shall be judged and condemned by our very own actions, words and deeds at the final judgment.

St. John in our first reading today in the Epistle that he wrote reminded all of us that we are all sinners and that all of us deserve to be punished because of our sins, and we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that we had no sin. All the sufferings, destructions and wickedness present in the world all these while have been caused by our disobedience against God, our sins and vile actions.

Yet, through Christ Our Lord, the Saviour born into the world and celebrated in this Christmas, all of us have received the sure promise and assurance that we will be spared and receive the eternal life and glory promised to us through Him. The Lord has shown us that all the infants of Bethlehem who perished that day did not die in vain, as martyrs of innocence, because the Lord had come to bring an end to all these brutalities and wickedness.

And how did He do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is by revealing His truth, His way and the path that He wants us all to walk in to us all. He taught us through His disciples and His Church that we must no longer be subjected and ruled over by our sins, by our wicked desires and greed, by our pride, ego and ambition. Instead, we are all called to follow the Lord faithfully and commit ourselves wholeheartedly from now on in His path.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all strive as Christians to end the bitter cycle of violence and suffering in our world, by first of all making sure that we Christians do not act in our own self-interest and causing sufferings in others just so that we can satisfy our own selfish wants and greed. Let us all get rid from ourselves these corruptions of pride and greed, of lust and jealousy, of anger and wrath, that we do not end up falling into the same terrible sin committed by king Herod.

Are we willing and able to commit ourselves to the path of righteousness and justice as shown by the Lord, brothers and sisters in Christ? This season of Christmas let us make our celebrations meaningful by doing what we can to contribute to our community, and showing love, care and compassion especially to the marginalised, the poor and the unloved, and seek to be more selfless and to love one another with ever greater devotion, from now on. Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, pray for us all sinners. Amen.

Monday, 28 December 2020 : 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.

Monday, 28 December 2020 : 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.

Monday, 28 December 2020 : 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.