Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled because they are no more.’” (Matthew 2:17-18)
Today we remember the Holy Innocents; the children who were slaughtered by Herod in an attempt to kill the baby, Jesus. When the wise men were led by the star to the newly born king, they mistakenly went to the Palace assuming kings are only born in palaces. That was how Herod got to know about Jesus. He couldn’t stomach the existence of another king alive when he was still king.
Herod instructed the wise men to find out about the child and return news to him so that he too could go and do the child homage. This was a trick. He wanted by all means to eliminate the child. As God would have it, Herod realized that his trick failed when after two whole years the wise men never returned. In a rage, Herod commanded the killing of all the male children two years old and younger. Herod did this as an act of war; an attempt to protect his kingship. What Herod never realized was that Jesus was not an earthly king interested in worldly power.
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 even to the detriment of others. The Herod in you wants to hold on to power not minding how many lives would be lost. The Herod in you is ready to eliminate, kill, and destroy others so long as it makes advances your self-interest. The Herod in you, for instance, supports abortion and is ready to kill others just to avoid the shame of the public. The Herod in you does not care about others.
How often have I felt so threatened by the success of others to the extent of doing all in my power to pull them down, get them out of the way, or outrightly eliminate them? What actions do I take to remain in power? If we were to be very sincere with ourselves, we are guilty of even worse crimes than Herod himself on a daily basis. As our first reading asserts, if we claim we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.
Repent. Let others shine. What belongs to you can never pass you by. Pulling others down, defaming people’s character, or blackmailing just to look good will not get you far. In the end, no matter how hard you try, you can never stop anyone from achieving their God-given potential just as Herod could not stop Jesus. The death of the Holy innocents casts a dark shadow on our Christmas celebration. It gives us a glimpse of the darkness that so filled the earth before Christ’s birth brought light to the world. It also gives us a glimpse of what life on earth would have been if Jesus had not brought salvation. If Jesus wasn’t born, I guess none of us would have been alive today.
As to why God allowed these children to die instead of giving Herod a knock, we do not know, we cannot question God’s ways. All we know is that we serve a God who will always protect us by warning us ahead of danger just as He did by sending an Angel to warn Joseph.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, free me from the spirit of Herod. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 John 1:5-2:2, Ps. 124:2-5,7-8, Matthew 2:13-18
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu