Daily Gospel Reflection: Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
Bishop Robert Barron
December 26, 2023
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
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, on this feast of the Holy Innocents, a baby is at the center of attention as the Gospel story commences. Cherished by his mother, protected by his foster-father, bestowed with gifts by the Magi, the baby Jesus is at the same time threatened by Herod and indeed by all of Jerusalem, which, we are told in an earlier verse, trembled at his coming.
Herod’s massacre of the innocents mimics, of course, Pharaoh’s murder of the male children of the Hebrews at the time of Moses’ birth. Once more we are made to see that, in the fallen world, the least powerful can be ruthlessly eliminated in order to satisfy the needs and assuage the fears of the most powerful.
Of course, the same Herod who casually ordered the murder of the children of Bethlehem had previously commanded the execution of two of his own sons. This awful story functions as a vivid picture of what compromised family life looks like.
The abuse of young people can and should be analyzed psychologically and sociologically, but biblical people know that, in the final analysis, it is a manifestation of the dysfunction born of sin.