Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Happy feast day! The feast recalls the incident in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew (2:16–18) in which Herod the Great, King of Judea, orders the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem in a vain bid to kill the Christ child. Here is Bishop Earl Boyea's brief reflection upon the significance of today's feast:
"My dad, who was born on December 22nd, always would say that it was the darkest day in his mother’s life. It certainly was the shortest. Even in this season of light, with different colored strands hanging on trees and from the eaves of many homes, there is darkness."
"St. Matthew (2:16-18) describes the horror which confronted the birth of this Son of God. An angel forewarned Joseph to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt in order to escape the hatred of Herod. Then we hear that Jesus’ birth was marked by the slaughter of innocent boys in Bethlehem. Matthew cites the words of Jeremiah (31:15) who lamented the Assyrian exile of the northern tribes some 700 years before this current darkness inflicted upon Rachel’s children: “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more” (Matthew 2:18)."
"Darkness and light. Which will win? The Book of Revelation gives us a hint: “these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished” (Revelation 14:4-5). Light will always win; but the way to the victory is the cross."
"When Adam and Eve sinned, they handed themselves and our world over to Satan. His rule has been marked by darkness ever since. With the birth of Christ a new age has dawned. His Father has sent him to reclaim all creation, including us and our hearts and minds and bodies and souls."
"Sisters and brothers, today is a very stark contrast to the gentleness and warmth of Christmas Day. Yet, it is a reminder to us that the birth of the Son of God is the entry of the Holy One into a war with evil, a battle he is sure to win, but a battle nonetheless. We are all called to be on the side of the winner. Let us choose a right."