December 28, 2016

Holy Innocents

December 28, 2016:  Holy Innocents, Martyrs

  • 'Christmas lights' tie:  God is light (1st reading)
  • Red shirt, 'blood drop' pin:  Martyrdom of Holy Innocents; Jesus' blood cleanses us (1st reading)
  • 'Bird' tie pin:  Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare. (psalm)
  • 'Angel' pin:  Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (gospel)
  • 'Magnifying glass' pin:  Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him (gospel)
  • 'Street lamp' tie bar:  God is light (1st reading)
  • 'OneLife LA':  Holy Innocents, help us to respect all human life. 
Paul pointed to Abram to indicate the way of faith and of hope.  Abram’s confidence in God’s promise to give him a son was a hope against hope because of his age and his wife's sterility, but he believed, and his faith gave him hope unreasonable to all appearances.  His hope opened new horizons, making him capable of dreaming the unimaginable.  Hope allows us to enter the darkness of an uncertain future and journey in the light.
Even Abram had moments of discouragement.  In the gospel passage, the scene where Abram questions God takes place at night, but in Abram's heart there is the darkness of disappointment and discouragement.  Though he spoke familiarly with God, he felt alone, old, and tired.  Even this questioning by Abram is a form of faith.  Despite his disappointment, he kept believing in God–or else why would he complain to him?  Faith is not only silence that accepts everything without reply; hope is not certainty that makes you secure from doubt.  Faith can be struggling with God, showing our bitterness, and hope is also not being afraid to see reality and accept its contradictions.
The sign God gives Abram–“Count the stars…  just so will your descendants be”–is a call to believe and hope.  To believe, you need to see with the eyes of faith:  they're only stars everyone can see, but for Abram, they became the sign of God's faithfulness.  This is the journey of hope each of us must walk. 
  • 1 Jn 1:5—2:2  God is light; in him is no darkness.  If we walk in the light, we have fellowship...  If we acknowledge our sins, he will forgive and cleanse us.  Advocate Jesus Christ is expiation for our sins and the world's.
  • Ps 124:2-5, 7cd-8  "Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare."  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
  • Mt 2:13-18  Angel to Joseph:  “Flee to Egypt; Herod wants to destroy the child.”  They departed.  Herod, realizing the magi deceived him, ordered the massacre of all the boys two years old and under.
    • Creighton:  God is light, in whom is no darkness.  Imagine the terror Joseph felt when the angel told him to flee with Mary and their son.  We go from the anticipation of Advent, to Christmas joy, to fear and violence.  Angry Herod ordered the massacre of all the boys two years old or under in or near Bethlehem.  Joseph had faith, and Jesus was spared.  Think of today's children affected by violence:  the unborn, the medically fragile, the mentally ill, those who live in violence through no fault of their own; pray for peace.
      The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents/ Dore
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Royal flush":  Herod understood Jesus' life and birth threatened his kingship; he believed Mary's prophecy, "He has deposed the mighty and raised the lowly.  The hungry he has given every good thing, while the rich he has sent away empty."  Herod anticipated another prophecy, that Jesus would be a "Sign of contradiction."  Christ and Christmas are a revolutionary threat against worldly powers?  Live the true meaning of Christmas!
    • Passionist:  Imagine the darkness enveloping the families who lost innocent children in the Herod-ordered massacre!  Unfortunately innocent children are still killed worldwide; today's Herods are at least as dangerous.  Our faith in a God who is light and walks with us through darkness is the hope we carry.  The Gift of the innocent Child born in Bethlehem is the light that will guide us.  Embrace the miracle and give thanks for the gift!
    •  "Rachel weeping for her children":  Herod's massacre of children who gave their lives for a person and truth they didn't know seemed useless and unjust.  Why couldn't God prevent it?  We can't understand suffering.  These children are the first martyrs.  Suffering, persecution, and martyrdom are the lot of all Christ's disciples.  Jesus' death won eternal life for us; his blood obtained pardon and reconciliation with our Father.
    Suffering can take many forms:  illness, disease, handicap, pain, trauma, slander, abuse, poverty, injustice....  "In everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called to his purpose."  Jesus said that those who are reviled and persecuted for righteousness' sake are blessed (makarios, happy), with a serene joy, self-contained and independent from chance and changing circumstances.
    Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God, but that blessedness became a sword that pierced her heart as he died; she received a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow.  But her sorrow didn't diminish her joy fueled by faith and hope. "No one will take your joy."  God gives each of us joy that enables us to bear sorrow or pain....
    • Universalis:  Holy Innocents, martyrs, baby boys slaughtered at Herod's orders in the hope that the newborn King of the Jews was among them.  They can stand for the “unimportant”/“unnecessary” pawns of history, sacrificed because they “don’t matter.”  In God’s eyes everyone matters.  The honor given these infants reminds us that our suffering for God’s sake has value even if we have little or no say in it.  Remember those who die before birth....

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