1st Reading: 1 Jn 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.
A LIGHT NEVER TO BE EXTINGUISHED: A person who does not fear the Lord, care about his fellow human beings or stubbornly lives in sin and refuses to repent and be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, is one living in darkness. Such a person, when in power, thinks that he can even defeat God’s plan and purpose. Such was Herod the Great, the king who tried to destroy Jesus, even after he was told that according to Scriptures, Jesus is the Messiah of God. However, Jesus, the divine Son of God, is the eternal light. He is a light that no creature can extinguish. He dispels all the darkness. Therefore, Herod’s actions were completely futile. Herod tried to extinguish Jesus, the light, but failed. We are to abide in Jesus, to walk in his light, and bear witness to him by our lives, just like the Holy Innocents did.
Prayer: Lord, help me to remain close to you always.
FORCED MIGRATION: Today we remember the holy innocent martyrs. In an attempt to eliminate any threat to his throne, Herod killed innocent children, while the Holy Family fled to Egypt. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the world is witnessing the greatest movement of people, 49.8 million. Children, women and the poor are the most affected victims. In Nigeria, 3731 Christians were killed in 2018 and others forced to escape. As believers, what is our role to migrants? The Bible reminds us, ‘the foreigners residing among you must be treated as native-born” (Leviticus 19,33-34). St Paul exhorts Christians to hospitality saying, “do not forget to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13,2). At at all times but more during persecution, we have a Christian duty to defend the rights of others.
PRAYER: Lord, we pray for those who are persecuted because of their faith.
KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOR: The universal fact of human sinfulness is confronted with the precious Blood of Jesus. “We have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of Jesus His son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1: 7). The story of the Holy innocents is not just another tragedy among the numerous recorded ones in Israel’s history. It is a case of human beings placing their insignificant lives beside Jesus’ self- offering, His sacrifice. Victimhood is not celebrated here, helplessness is not commemorated, but the witnessing to HIM. The infants tried their bit to set right the damaged fabric of Israel. The deliverance of the world needed their contribution too. It is not by the sound-bites that you produce in your great conventions and assemblies, not even the screen space you capture in electronic media, that Jesus is announced. It is when your seemingly insignificant life glows, even for a moment, with that noble purpose like a candle in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It is then that it meets its aim: We make God seen and heard. May the Holy Innocents inspire us, challenge us to burn out for Him. May we measure the quality of our life by not in its length but by how it is spent.
INNOCENT CHILDREN DIE EVEN TODAY: Even in the Octave of Christmas we have this sad event. Today we commemorate the innocent children who were killed by a selfish and fearful king. While we think of these children who were the early martyrs – as it were – we also think of the millions of innocent infants and children who are killed today. We think of the millions who are aborted in the womb of mothers for various reasons. We think of the millions who die due to malnutrition. We think of those children who die in war or as refugees. We think of those children who are born as refugees, or in the streets of cities, who do not have a safe environment. We think of children who are victims of abuse of every kind. We commit ourselves to protecting the children in our own environment.