Daily Gospel Reflection – Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
December 28, 2021
Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
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.
*United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, today’s Gospel tells the story of Herod’s massacre of the innocents, which mimics, of course, Pharoah’s murder of the male children of the Hebrews at the time of Moses’ birth.
John Courtney Murray commented that a major motif of the Gospels is the ever-increasing agon (struggle) that characterizes Jesus’ life. From the very beginning, he is opposed: Herod trembles in fear at his birth and then tries in the most brutal manner possible to stamp him out, forcing him and his family into exile. And from the first moments of his public ministry, he awakens fierce opposition from both the cosmic powers and the representatives of the religious establishment. As the narrative unfolds, the warfare only becomes more intense, verbal violence giving way to threats of physical harm and finally to institutional violence that culminates in execution by crucifixion.
The theological meaning of this struggle is made clear in Peter’s post-Pentecost speech to the crowds gathered in the temple precincts: "You denied the Holy and Righteous One . . . The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead." The opposition to Jesus is divine judgment on the dysfunction of the world.