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.

Sunday, 28 December 2014 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are celebrating the great feast of the Holy Family of Jesus our Lord, and His mother Mary and His foster-father Joseph. On this day, in the midst of this joyful season of Christmas when we celebrate the Birth of Jesus into this world, we reflect on the family which Jesus had, the perfect and model family which all of the faithful should emulate.

The Holy Family is a family not built on glamour or the wealth of this world, but on love and rich with the graces of God. It is not just because Jesus Christ our Lord is one of the Family, but because of the active participation of all members of the family, namely Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Jesus was an obedient Son, who listened to His mother even though at times He told her of things which she was not aware of, due to His unique nature of both being God and Man. The perfect example of this would be the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine, listening to His mother’s pleas on behalf of the bride and bridegroom in trouble.

Mary, then, was a loving and caring mother, who was genuinely concerned for her family and first of all, for her Son, Jesus. Mary devoted her entire life caring for Jesus as He grew up from a Baby into His adulthood, ready for the mission for which He entered this life. She followed her through His mission in life and even unto His suffering and death on the cross. She stood by faithfully on the foot of the cross, just as He suffered and died for us, for our sake and to atone for our sins.

Meanwhile, St. Joseph was not related by blood to Jesus at all, but he was related to Jesus through his legal marriage to Mary. As such he became the foster-father of our Lord and Saviour. At first he had his sceptic moment when he found that Mary was pregnant without him even married to him yet. He thought that she was unfaithful to him, but Joseph was a righteous man and a responsible person. For Mary’s own good he wanted to divorce her quietly so that she would not suffer the repercussion.

Joseph was therefore a good father figure to Jesus, and the one likely who taught Him various things in life, educating Him on skills and even perhaps on carpentry. Jesus was likely also a carpenter as His foster-father was. He was an upright man who took his duties and responsibilities seriously. He protected his family well, and he brought them to Egypt to live in exile while those who sought the death of Jesus his foster-Son was around.

All of the members of the Holy Family therefore are good examples for us all. They showed us how we should behave as a family. A family is not built on just mere coincidences, arrangements, or infatuations. A family is built on firm foundation of love, the love that is the same as the love which God had for us. Yes, love that does not perish with goods and love that does not demand a return.

We have to realise today in our world that many of our families are losing their integrity and harmony, because we are losing genuine love in the family. More and more people today are only concerned about themselves and not about others. When members of a family start to put each of them and their own interests above that of the others, then things will certainly not look good for the prospect of that family.

In addition, if we note the readings today talking about Abraham and his wife, Sarah, who had been rewarded by God after many years of fruitless marriage without any children, with the promised child Isaac, who would be the father of many, earning Abraham what God had promised him, that his descendants would number as many as the stars.

Abraham was rewarded because of his faith, as was with Sarah. Sarah did have her skepticism as well, when she heard of the news that she would be pregnant in her old age and give birth to a child, and she even laughed at that. But, eventually, she trusted in God as her husband had, and for this faith they had shown, they bring themselves and make themselves to be a good, harmonious, successful and holy family.

This is another thing often lacking from our lives as a family. We rarely spend time together and each person are busy with their own business and things, so that we end up growing more and more distant with every passing moment. It is no wonder that fights and disharmony arose out of this situation. Remember that there is a saying, ‘A family that prays together, stays together’?

It was not written in the Bible or the Gospels that the Holy Family did this, but it is most likely beyond any doubt, from what we know of the characters in the Holy Family, that Jesus, Mary His mother and His foster-father Joseph often and regularly prayed together to God, at their meals, at the time when they were working, and at many other times.

If we, as a family, pray constantly to God, I am certain that we will grow closer to the Lord, and if we learn to love and be faithful as the Holy Family had been faithful, in how Jesus, Mary and Joseph played their respective roles in God’s plan for our salvation, I am certain, that we will have genuine love, faith and harmony growing in our families.

There will surely be plenty of challenges and difficulties along the way, but if we persevere, we are certain to be able to pull through together and emerge out as families even stronger than ever before. Let us all model our families on the Holy Family, learning to love one another, putting aside our differences and letting go of our ego and pride, that often cause division and destruction to our families.

Families are the basic units of the faithful in the Church, and it is through the family that we can inculcate faith in the future generations. It has been proven that a family that prays together, keeps up hope for one another at times of distress and stay faithful to the Lord will emerge in the end, as truly faithful and devoted children of God. It is often those without good and proper family background that lose out their faith, and as a result are denied forever the hope of salvation in God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be like the Holy Family in our families, staying filled with love and grace, with faith and genuine devotion to the Lord, that at the end of days, all of us will together embrace the Lord our loving Father and be saved together as one family, and as one people. God bless us all. Amen.

 

First Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/26/sunday-28-december-2014-feast-of-the-holy-family-of-jesus-mary-and-joseph-and-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-martyrs-first-reading/

 

Psalm :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/26/sunday-28-december-2014-feast-of-the-holy-family-of-jesus-mary-and-joseph-and-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-martyrs-psalm/

 

Second Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/26/sunday-28-december-2014-feast-of-the-holy-family-of-jesus-mary-and-joseph-and-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-martyrs-second-reading/

 

Gospel Reading :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/26/sunday-28-december-2014-feast-of-the-holy-family-of-jesus-mary-and-joseph-and-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-martyrs-gospel-reading/

Sunday, 28 December 2014 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 22-40

When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the Law of the Lord : ‘Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God.’ And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the Law of the Lord : a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord.

So he was led into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law. Simeon took the Child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, o Lord, You can dismiss Your servant in peace, for You have fulfilled Your word and my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You display for all the people to see. Here is the Light You will reveal to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

His father and mother wondered at what was said about the Child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, His mother, “Know this : your Son is a sign, a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the Child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom : the grace of God was upon Him.

 

Alternative reading (shorter version)

Luke 2 : 22, 39-40

When the day came for the purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought the Baby up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord.

When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There the Child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom : the grace of God was upon Him.

 

Homily and Reflection :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/26/sunday-28-december-2014-feast-of-the-holy-family-of-jesus-mary-and-joseph-and-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-martyrs-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Sunday, 28 December 2014 : Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Hebrews 11 : 8, 11-12, 17-19

It was by faith that Abraham, called by God, set out for a country that would be given to him as an inheritance; for he parted without knowing where he was going.

By faith Sarah herself received power to become a mother, in spite of her advanced age; since she believed that He who had made the promise would be faithful. Therefore, from an almost impotent man were born descendants as numerous as the stars of heavens, as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.

By faith Abraham went to offer Isaac when God tested him. And so he who had received the promise of God offered his only son although God had told him : ‘Isaac’s descendants will bear your name.’ Abraham reasoned that God is capable of even raising the dead, and he received back his son, which has a figurative meaning.

 

Alternative reading (from Readings for Year A)

Colossians 3 : 12-21

Clothe yourselves, then, as is fitting for God’s chosen people, holy and beloved of Him. Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience to bear with one another and forgive whenever there is any occasion to do so. As the Lord has forgiven you, forgive one another.

Above all, clothe yourselves with love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. May the peace of Christ overflow in your hearts; for this end you were called to be one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of God dwell in you in all its richness. Teach and admonish one another with words of wisdom. With thankful hearts sing to God psalms, hymns and spontaneous praise. And whatever you do or say, do it in the Name of Jesus, the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as you should do in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not get angry with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, because that pleases the Lord. Parents, do not be too demanding of your children, lest they become discouraged.

 

Homily and Reflection :

https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/26/sunday-28-december-2014-feast-of-the-holy-family-of-jesus-mary-and-joseph-and-feast-of-the-holy-innocents-martyrs-homily-and-scripture-reflections/