HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS.
HOMILY THEME: THE HOLY INNOCENTS: THE BITTER SIDE OF CHRISTMAS
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
“Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem.” Matthew 2:16.
Somehow, our readings for the last two days took us away from the whole Christmas scenario far away to the stoning of Stephen and the resurrection scene but today’s readings suddenly bring us back again to the baby Jesus. But then, coming back is not so funny in that we are reminded today of much pain, tears and sorrow that followed the whole birth narrative of Jesus.
The story of the Holy Innocents not only tells us much about human nature, it also shows us that nothing happens in this life without a reason.
There is a Herod that lives in every human being; it is called “ego”, it wants to reign, to dominate, to be worshipped by all means by others, it does not believe there can or should be room for anyone else to shine, it does not accept second fiddle. The dark side about the ego is that it is always under threat and it is ever ready kill if that would help reinforce its false self-esteem.
Herod only heard that the new born baby is a king but he failed to realize that this king was not an earthly king. How often have I felt so threatened by the success of others that I have directly and indirectly sought to pull them down? How often have I sought for security in the passing things of this world? Herod felt killing those children would secure his kingdom but the question is: “Did his kingdom last forever?”
I must come to terms with the fact that the Herod in me must be tamed. I must remind myself each day that naked I came to this world and naked I shall return; that everything I consider mine today were given to me and none of them really belongs to me. This life is not a competition. We all have our own race to run! And trust me, nothing is worth the head of a fellow human being.
The second lesson we learn today is that bad things happen for a reason. Imagine yourself holding and playing with your child who is just a year and half. He or she is now learning how to crawl and talk and at times the child smiles to you. You feel so happy just being with this precious little child of yours. Then one day, soldiers just emerge out of the blues, they take you child and yank its head of in your presence.
Unthinkable. But that is exactly what our Gospel passage today relates. Put yourself in the shoes of the mothers of these children, imagine the pain you must have felt and even the anger you may have had towards God for not preventing this horrible thing from happening. Mind you, none of these mothers and fathers knew about the birth of Jesus Christ at that time, none of them had the privilege of seeing the big picture as we now see today; none of them knew there was a reason for the death of their precious little kids.
The way and manner in which the Holy Innocents died teaches us that no matter how bad things may be, no matter our circumstances in life, it is for a reason. At times, in the midst of my pain, I find myself acting as if I am wiser than God, I find myself asking God questions and telling him what ought to have happened and what shouldn’t have happened.
However, no matter how I try, the fact remains that I don’t know better than God, I cannot give him advice, I cannot be wiser than my creator. And so, no matter the amount of pain I face, I must constantly tell myself that God is still on the throne; that God still cares about me, that God never sleeps and that everything God permits to happen is ultimately for my good.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace of humility and power to see beyond my circumstances in life. Amen.
Merry Christmas. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Feast of the Holy Innocents. Bible Study: 1st John 1:5-2:2 and Matthew 2:13-18).