Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs
First John 1:5, 2:2; Psalm 124:2-5, 7-8 & Matthew 2:13-18
Today is the feast of the Holy Innocents. It is a first-century feast that has been kept in the West from the 4the century. The day honors those that are considered to be martyrs because they not only died for Christ but instead of Christ. King Herod murdered all the male children who were approximately two years old in hopes of killing the Christ child. In this feast, the Church also honors all who die in a state of innocence and consoles parents of their deceased children with the conviction that these also will share the glory of the infant companions of Jesus.
I believe that it is quite consoling for a parent to know that the Church also recognizes children who have died are present with these infant martyrs. Life is as much a mystery as God's ways are unexplainable. Who can explain to parents why their baby suddenly died or why others are struggling with the birth of their child who has a rare disease or severe handicap? But when innocent children are slaughtered, as the Gospel portrays, the disorder and sin in the world become painfully present. The saddest part of today's feast is that Herod's order to slaughter the innocent children of Jerusalem was not an isolated case. Throughout history, in cultures worldwide, children have been sacrificed, slaughtered, abused, starved, and destroyed. These innocent and weak children are left to the demise of more powerful and controlling adults that are indeed walking in darkness. Here, unfortunately, we also must acknowledge the tragedy that befalls the unborn. The darkness seems overwhelming at times. We weep for all of them.
Today's reading from 1 John gives us hope for a world that seems surrounded by darkness. Hope because there is light in the world that brightens the darkness. For all the evil acts that blacken the world around us, God's light is shining through people who stand for justice, truth, and love. Those I refer to are regular folks like you and me, coming from all faiths, cultures, and walks of life. We brighten the world because we stand up against injustices, pursue God's truth, and reflect the love God has for each of us, for we are His precious children.
We are not yet saints, but we are people who care deeply about the state of the human condition. We have been touched by God's precious love and want to share the gift with others. By sharing God's love, we are lighting up the world. As we have celebrated the season of Christmas and God's birth among us, we can be confident that the light we bring to the world is making a difference. Even those small daily acts of justice, truth, and love shared with family, friends, and strangers send "sparks of light" into our world. We can never undo the horrors of yesterday, but we can bring God's light into the world today. The world needs us to bring God's love, hope, and light into every situation we encounter.
Question of the Day: How will you bring God's light into the world through your words, actions, and deeds?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in Your love for us, protect us against the wickedness of the devil and those helpless little ones whom You have given the gift of life. Amen.