December 28, 2017

Holy Innocents

December 28, 2017:  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' 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 searching for the child to destroy him (gospel)
  • 'Gun' pin (oops; forgot; see here):  Herod ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under (gospel)
  • 'OneLife LA' button:  Holy Innocents, help us to respect all human life.
    You want to deepen, together, the true sources of joy.  Gospel joy fills the hearts and lives of those who meet Jesus.  Those who let him save them are free from sin, sadness, emptiness, isolation.  With Christ joy is born and reborn forever.  Live in this joy that comes from your friendship with Jesus that never closes us to others.  Stay connected with the Lord by praying and listening to his Word, so he may help you develop your talents and promote a culture of mercy based on encounter with others free of indifference and not turning away from others' suffering.  May the Holy Spirit help you rejoice and enrich each other with your diverse gifts, and show that gospel joy unites us beyond the wounds of our divisions.  Walk the paths of brotherhood so that your meeting will make visible the joyful communion that springs from the Lord's overflowing heart.
    • 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:  There are dark places in the world, and within me.  Darkness in the world is overwhelming and beyond understanding.  But God is light.  God loves us and will be faithful and just if we acknowledge our sins. We must try to banish darkness and walk in the light; choosing to be light in small ways every day.  We can be kind, listen even when we're busy, be thankful, say we're sorry, pray, help others, challenge ourselves to be a light for justice.  Lord, help me walk in light.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Recover your innocence":  Christ became man to overcome the bondage and death due to sin.  Jesus came to declare the victory of innocence over evil, of the Spirit over the flesh.  Today's feast celebrates the victory of innocence over perversion and evil.  There's no freedom as great as the freedom of life in Christ.  Though we may have lost the innocence of childhood and though our sins be entrenched, in Jesus' blood we are washed clean.  So we offer Jesus our sin-stained hearts, and he turns our death into life, our sin into holiness, our slavery into "the freedom of God's children." "The sanctifying power of this night...restores innocence to the fallen" (Exsultet).  Rachel, mourning her slain child, thinks her weeping and loss are irreversible, but Jeremiah's prophecy of her wailing concludes with, "Your sorrow shall have its reward.... There's hope...."  In Jesus, your lost innocence can be restored.
      The Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents/ Dore
    • Passionist:  The tragic death of so many young innocents at the hands of a crazed, controlling ruler seems misplaced in the midst of Christmas joy.  But life holds both the tragic and the glorious, darkness and light.  We hope to see the light of Christ shine through the darkness.  The light of Christ is evident in the faces of the poor and hungry.  We pray for innocents past and present, young and old, who suffer in darkness, that they may feel God’s light and love.
    •  "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....
    • UniversalisHoly 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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