December 28, 2017 – Holy Innocents
Scripture Readings for today’s Liturgy:
1 John 1:5 – 2:2 – Psalms 124 – Matthew 2: 13-18
In these octave days of Christmas the Church is giving us a wide variety of accounts of what it means to follow Christ: whether you are an innocent babe or a seasoned Moses you cannot avoid both the pains of birth or the manner of death. The interesting point, though, is how the story is told of our lives: how we were born, what we did in our life and how we finally met death. In light of this I quote my good friend and Dominican brother, Fr. Martin de Porres Walsh whose oft quoted line, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story!” certainly applies to today’s feast.
We have to ask how this feast got such prominence and placed here in these days after the celebration of Christmas when most scripture scholars agree that there is scant evidence to support such a massacre at the level reported in Matthew’s Gospel.
So, how do we gain some insight into what is being celebrated in today’s feast? We can’t just say that this celebration speaks loudly against abortion. It can take that stance but it is also more than that.
I’ve often pointed out that this little baby that we represent as laying in the manger with his arms and hands open to welcome us into His life is the same Christ who at the other end of His life will stretch His arms out, wide on the cross for our salvation. We love the little baby, Jesus and want to stay with him in the quiet of that cave at Bethlehem but we can’t just stay there. Just like Mary and Joseph who had to “hit the road” we, too must go out from the quiet comfort of whatever place we’re at and get on the road of life. That’s the only place where we’ll be able to meet Jesus.
But along the way we might also meet a “Herod-like person” who threatens our life and wants to get in the way of our following of Jesus.
This, perhaps is the deeper meaning of today’s celebration. Even during this time of Christmas celebration we are still on our way to Calvary. But it doesn’t end there. We will meet the Resurrected Jesus – like the disciples on the road to Emmaus – and be able to say, “Were not our hearts burning within as he explained the scriptures to us.” Then, we’ll know what this feast was all about. Can we allow ourselves to rest in this thought? Amen!