Holy Innocents, Saturday — 28th December 2019 — Gospel: Matthew 2,13-18
Innocents as first martyrs for Jesus
The feast of the holy innocents recalls the massacre of the Herod after the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem. The first Christians who were martyred for the sake of God’s kingdom were not St.Stephen and the other disciples who were jailed or put to death after Jesus’ resurrection. But rather these innocent male children, under two years of age, who were slaughtered by Herod in his effort to wipe out the threat the infant Jesus posed to his rule and authority. Herod was afraid of losing his earthly power. So he turns that fear into hatred, which destroyed the lives of the innocent children in and around Bethlehem. This feast offers the fact that goodness threatens the power and control of evil. These children died through insane cruelty and oppressive power. However, they did not die to save Jesus’ life. Their death is similar to the cruelty of Egyptian pharaoh in Moses’ time when the weeping was heard in Ramah for the slaughtered infants of Israel. However the plan of God is beyond human reach and understanding. God saved His Son from Herod to bring salvation to whole humanity. These martyred children bear witness to Jesus through their innocence and helplessness. They also bear witness to Jesus, who is persecuted right from his birth for being a Messiah. The evangelist Matthew asks us to remember Herod and his sad command. The Church asks us to remember these Holy Innocent martyrs who died in and for the name of Jesus. God asks us to remember his love and plan for Christ that directs day by day each and everyone of us.