Gospel Reflection Wednesday after Christmas (28 December) – Feast of the Holy Innocents
Today as we remember the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (2: 13-18) in which the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream and urges him to ‘take the child and his mother with you and escape into Egypt’.
Fr Paul notes that the Holy Innocents are the children who we hear of in today’s Gospel; the children who were slain at the orders of King Herod, in the hope that by killing every boy born in Bethlehem at the same time as Jesus, Herod would succeed in killing the new-born King of the Jews.
There was nothing about those baby boys that made them deserve death.
The Holy Innocents can stand, therefore, for the ‘unimportant’ and ‘nnecessary’ pawns, child and adult alike, that permeate the whole of human history, the ones who can be sacrificed for some greater cause because they ‘don’t really matter’. There are plenty of them, one way or another. The Feast of the Holy Innocents reminds us that in God’s eyes (that is, according to the true value of things), no-one is unimportant, no-one is unnecessary, no-one ‘doesn’t really matter’. However meaningless their lives and deaths may seem to us; they shine glorious in heaven.
On a more personal level, the honour given to the Holy Innocents reminds us that if we suffer or even die for God’s sake, it has value even if we have little or no say in it ourselves. Honouring them effectively also honours the martyrdom of the people these children could have become, and their children’s children as well.
On this Feast of the Holy Innocents, Fr Paul invites us to ask them to pray for us.