HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS.
THEME: SALVATION IN THE MIDST OF CRUELTY.
BY: Fr. Karabari Paul.
HOMILY FOR DECEMBER 27TH.
‘Then Herod….was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region’.
The Gospel of today (Matt.2:13-18) presents Herod’s callous killing of children who were two years old or under. Let us consider the rich paradox of celebrating the birth of Jesus, our redeemer, in the context of this slaughter of the Holy Innocents. It is deeper than we may have taken it.
Setting Joseph’s dreams that saved the baby Jesus in the presence of “Rachel weeping for her children (parents crying for their killed children)” locates the presence of the God-with-us in a believable universe pervaded by sorrows.
When Christmas comes in any year, children are still being kidnapped and killed in the North and other parts of Nigeria, and like the parents of the child Jesus, people are still fleeing some horror in their homelands. The Herods among us are still threatening the vulnerable. And into the madness of want and evil, and the negative ambitions of the Herods, God comes to give life, to show the way. The picture of salvation in the midst of cruelty is very much at home here. It is crucial rather than something to avoid.
Remarkably, we can not avoid noticing that the parents of the children targeted by Herod do not receive an angel’s message. This, again, is a reality in our world, and it is a circumstance worthy of our prayer and mourning. We do not understand it. We must say that. Not everyone is saved from others’ evil deeds.
From the pulpit this might be a moment to speak directly to those who look at the evil in this world and conclude that God does not exist. They are each of us, as well as the consistently skeptical. Those whose image of God is Superman (a power always intervening) have little patience with the God who does not make life perfect for everyone. By their admirable zeal that the world be made right, they are, however, kept from seeing the goodness and beauty of God-made-human. This Jesus, born in the midst of Herod’s brutality, knows our suffering, comes to the frightened and the sick and the hungry, feeds and heals, and teaches the presence of God’s power wherever there are tears.
Christians do not worship a god who simply fixes problems. We worship the God who comforts those who suffer and who visits us with dreams and visions and insights as with Joseph. But those who are not given visions to flee from Herod’s wickedness are not hated either. God alone will give the final answers.
Superman-God mentality people would not even want to run away from the killer Herod after all the baby Jesus is not a normal baby but a product divine power who can equally protect them under their own roof. In this case, we would ignore the gift of reason. I consistently advise those around me that the power of God in you is never a guarantee of victory for every battle you were supposed to avoid in the first place. The parents of the child Jesus escaped to Egypt with Him, and the Man Jesus would in the future escape those who would want to push Him down the cliff. Do not engage in every battle simply because you have God. Such may not be His will.
Children possess inherent dignity. They are meant to grow and attend their divine purposes. They are to realise their full potentials. They are to do this physically and spiritually. When we hinder them in any way, we become Herods.
Evil inclined persons have no time to think that before the baby Jesus grows up to maturity capable of judging between right and wrong, They Herods would have been aged and even die. So there is no need to wage aimless war against the Innocents who would never drag space with them. And this we see everywhere around us. No place is so holy that Herod’s presence is not felt. No consolation is that whether in the pains of the Holy Innocents, or the joy in the company of the Child Jesus, God is still with us and HE IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God heal us of our wickedness, heal our world and bless us all. May He protect our children through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning.
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