The Gospel Today
Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
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.
We are still in the Octave of Christmas and today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents, martyred for the sake of Christ. They are little children who silently bore witness to Christ, our Lord. These children who were subject to Herod’s fear and insecurities suffered much despite their innocence and purity.
These little ones, voiceless and powerless they may seem, were blessed and chosen by God to let His power and greatness be manifested. Thus, “these children cry out their praises to the Lord; by their death they have proclaimed what they could not preach with their infant voices.” (Second antiphon of Morning Prayer, Liturgy of the Hours)
In the Gospel for today, the same characteristic of our Lord is manifested. Jesus was born in a manger one silent and holy night. The shepherds, after receiving the message from the angel of the Lord, “went in haste, and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in the manger.” (v.16) The Lord revealed Himself in the innocence and subtlety of an infant, silent and gentle, seemingly powerless and voiceless. But there is true power beneath the powerlessness seen in infants. Their cries make us rattle and their simple smile makes the whole family joyful; and that’s real power – to bear something deep within, not expressing it through words but through meaningful actions and gestures.
The same is taught to us today by the feast of the Holy Innocents. We are called to be like little children in bearing witness to Christ. Like what St. Francis has said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” To bear witness to Christ, we need not be the greatest. Sometimes, we just need to be like little children, small yet powerful, voiceless, yet professing. Our mere actions, little and unnoticed, but if kept true, good and right, will be our way of glorifying God.