The Holy Innocents – December 28th – Octave – Christmas

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The Holy Innocents – December 28th – Octave – Christmas


Readings: 1Jn 1:5-2:2; Mt 2:13-18.


Reading 1 (1Jn 1:5-2:2): 

Beloved: This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you:
God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.
If we say, “We have fellowship with him,”
while we continue to walk in darkness,
we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we walk in the light as he is in the light,
then we have fellowship with one another,
and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.
If we say, “We are without sin,”
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.
If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar,
and his word is not in us.

My children, I am writing this to you
so that you may not commit sin.
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.

Gospel (Mt 2:13-18): 

When the magi 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.


I. THEME: God’s love and human sin             

            Many people had a question about the Massacre of the Holy Innocents today: “Why a God who so loves the world that He gave His only Son to be incarnated and lived with people, let king Herode cruelly treated the innocents?” Then they concluded: either God had no power to stop such wicked act or God didn’t love people much; both reasons led them not to believe in God.

            To answer this question, first, we need to declare the fact that since Christ incarnated, death isn’t the end, but is a step to the eternal and happy life with God; and this is our final and ultimate goal. If God let us choose either to be with God right away as the Holy Innocents or to live in this world a long time to endure all kinds of suffering, and we aren’t even sure that we shall be with God, what choice shall we make? Next, God isn’t responsible for human sin. King Herode issued a command to kill the holy innocents completely because he made bad use of his freedom out of fear for loosing his throne. However, God’s power still shines in this painful tragedy, the innocent’s blood poured out to witness for the Son of God’s Incarnation. God patiently uses His love to converse human pride and their harden and sinful hearts.


1/ Reading I: The contrast between God and human beings

1.1/ God’s power and love:

            (1) God is light, He is absolute holy: St. John ascertained this attribute: “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” Light and darkness are two main topics in Johannine Writings. God is light from heaven, descended to the world to help people to recognize the truth, and the truth shall set people free (Jn 8:32). Whoever walks in light, have peace because he shall not fear of getting lost.

            (2) God purifies human sins through Christ’s blood: The darkness is human sin; they are all kinds of falsity and wickedness hidden in human mind. Darkness and light aren’t compatible; whoever like darkness shall hate light because it shows their wickedness; whoever like light shall come to light so that they shall be purified from their sins and have fellow with God and others. If someone said he has fellowhip with Christ and still walks in darkness, he lies to himself and doesn’t act according to the truth.

1.2/ Human weakness and sin:

            (1) Sin exists in human beings: St. John raised this fact when he said all human beings committed sins: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Many said they commited no sin; this can be results of many reasons: First, they didn’t carefully examine their conscience. Second, they didn’t know God’s commandments and teachings. Third, their conscience had lost the consciousness of sin because they got so used to sins. When a person stays in darkness for a long time, he looses his ability to see light. Similarly, when a person is so used to falsity, he looses his ability to know the truth. When someone said they didn’t commit any sin, they made God a liar as John stated: “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Who, then, Jesus died for?

            (2) All need the forgiveness of sins: If people committed sins, they need to confess their sins in order to receive God’s forgiveness. Christ has prepared for this forgiveness when he gave the right of loosing and binding for his disciples and their successors. St. John said: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” When someone consider themself as righteous, they shall not come to God to receive His forgiveness.

2/ Gospel: Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt.

2.1/ God’s wisdom: He knew Herod’s wicked plan, so He sent angels to do two things to save Jesus, His Son.

            (1) The angel let the three wise men know King Herod’s wicked plan so they found other way to go back to their country.

            (2) The angel announced to Joseph in his dream: “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt,and remained there until the death of Herod.

            The reason King Herod wanted to kill the Infant Jesus because He was afraid that the child shall take away his throne. He wanted to kill chidren when they had no weapon in their hands for protection. In today society, many people are still killing innocent children from their mother’s wombs because of many reasons, such as: to protect their future and freedom; to protect mothers’ health; to keep children free from suffering…

2.2/ Herod’s wickedness: The king was furious because the three wise men tricked him. The truth is the three wise men didn’t trick him, they only lived according to the truth. They were announced by the angel of the king’s wicked plan so they found other way to come back. Is it right thing for them to come back to the king and to show him the way so he shall kill the person they made lots of effort to find and to worship? When the king didn’t see them, he was in furious rage and executed his wicked plan. “He sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.”

            St. Matthew reported the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more” (Jer 31:15). To understand Jeremiah’s prophecy, we must read Genesis 35:19, which reported Rachel’s suffering. She died when gave birth to Benjamin in her old age; not because of someone took her child away. Jeremiah used midrash (Jewish way for interpreting Scripture). Instead, he gave the main reason why Rachel mourned in the next verse (Jer 31:16), because her sons were on exile in Egypt; but God shall let her sons to come back. In today passage, God shall also bring His Son back from Egypt.


III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            – God is good and love, there aren’t any falsity and hatred in Him; in opposition, there are full of weakness, sins, and hatred in human. We need to have God’s light, truth and forgiveness.

            – The danger happens when people think they are wise enough to judge God’s works, self-proclaim themselves righteous, and have no need of God’s love and forgiveness. Those who have these kinds of attitude were deceived by the devil to deny God’s salvation for them.

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