The Gospel Today
Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
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.
Reflection (Sem. Edgar Calma):
The Gospel passage is a two-fold story surrounding the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. The first one narrates the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt to protect the Child Jesus from the evil plans of Herod. The second story pictures the grave and cruel massacre of the boys in Bethlehem in search of the Child Jesus. The flight to Egypt reminds me of the exodus experience of the people in Bacolor, Pampanga who fled to the different towns and villages of Pampanga and nearby provinces and cities including Metro Manila finding safety, shelter and temporary homes. Others needed to leave their homes and livelihood in order to escape the devastation brought about by the lahar flows that affected almost all the barangays of the municipality. Leaving the place is to find safety, home, new life and be saved from danger and destruction. Putting it in our present context, the first story is an invitation for us to reflect on the areas in our life that we need to let go and turn away from, which will be instrumental for us to grow, find new beginning and fresh start. Of course, such conditions are truly challenging and very difficult especially if they require total detachment from something or someone that we used to have or used to love.
On the other hand, the second story shows the very sad story of suffering and death because of the massacre of the male infants in Bethlehem because of Christ. It mirrored the reality that someday the Child Jesus would also suffer and die for others. He was saved from the evil plan of Herod, in order to save others. In our current situation, following Christ entails the reality of suffering in life. Sometimes, it requires daily experiences of difficulties, trials and humiliation in order for us to find the true meaning of our existence. Life becomes truly meaningful when we find our reason… the end all and be all of our existence in Christ alone.
To me, the two-fold story is the story of our life. Sometimes, we need to experience letting go, detachment and leaving behind that will entail sufferings and trials in order for us to find Christ who is the very reason of our existence. As we celebrate Christmas and in the coming days, the New Year, let this be an invitation for us to let Christ be the center of our life guiding us in our journey in life… in joy and in pain, in moments of sufferings and happiness, in endings and new beginnings.