Saturday 28 December 2019
The Holy Innocents, Martyrs
The Holy Innocents are the children who were slaughtered on the orders of King Herod, in the hope that by killing every boy born in Bethlehem at the same time as Jesus, he would succeed in killing the new-born King of the Jews.
The innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ; spotless, they follow the Lamb and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord.
O God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, we pray, that the faith in you which we confess with our lips may also speak through our manner of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: 1 John 1:5-2:2
This is what we have heard from Jesus Christ, and the message that we are announcing to you: God is light; there is no darkness in him at all. If we say that we are in union with God while we are living in darkness, we are lying because we are not living the truth. But if we live our lives in the light, as he is in the light, we are in union with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth; but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong. To say that we have never sinned is to call God a liar and to show that his word is not in us. I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning; but if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just; e is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s.
Psalm 123 (124):2-5, 7-8
R/ Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.
1) If the Lord had not been on our side when men rose up against us, then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger was kindled.
2) Then would the waters have engulfed us, the torrent gone over us; over our head would have swept the raging waters.
3) Indeed the snare has been broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Gospel Acclamation: cf. Te Deum
Alleluia, alleluia! We praise you, O God, we acknowledge you to be the Lord; the noble army of martyrs praise you, O Lord. Alleluia!
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18
After the wise men had left, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I called my son out of Egypt Herod was furious when he realised that he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. It was then that the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah were fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loudly lamenting: it was Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they were no more.
Prayer over the Offerings
Receive, O Lord, we pray, the offerings of your devoted servants and purify us as we faithfully serve these, your mysteries, by which you grant justification even to those who lack understanding. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Cf. Rev 14: 4
Behold those redeemed as the first fruits of the human race for God and the Lamb, and who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
Prayer after Communion
Grant, O Lord, abundant salvation to your faithful as they receive your holy gifts on the feast day of these, your Saints, who, though still unable to profess your Son in speech, were crowned with heavenly grace on account of his birth. Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
Temporal power can be totally senseless in its cruelty. Herod is so insecure that he exterminates all male children two years and younger because he fears one of them, Jesus Christ, will grow up and dethrone him. Since he is not sure which one of the children will be the King of Israel announced by the kings from the East (Magi), he embarks on a senseless slaughter of all male children, two years and under. Our present day ‘Herods’, especially in Africa, still indulge in wholesome pogroms of people, including innocent children, whenever they feel that their authority, often acquired through the barrel of a rifle, is threatened. Let us pray to the Holy Innocents to help offer our own pain to God and to have great compassion for all who suffer and die through no fault of theirs. Amen.