Wednesday 28 th december 2022
The Holy Innocents,
- Feast –
The Holy Innocents are the children who were slaughtered at 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 1:5-22
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; he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away, and not only ours, but the whole world’s.
Psalm Ps 124
R/ Our life, like a bird, has escaped from the snare of the fowler.
- If the Lord had not been on our side when men rose against us, then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger was kindled.
- Then would the waters have engulfed us, the torrent gone over us; over our head would have swept the raging waters.
- Indeed the snare has been broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
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 realized 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.
We have to choose between good and evil, between light and darkness. God is light, and just as light cannot coexist with darkness, we cannot follow God and at the same time indulge in sinful acts. We have to confess our sins, so that Jesus may cleanse us of all wickedness. The forces of darkness will always try to engulf us, just as Herod tried to kill Jesus. The massacre of the innocent children shows that he will stop at nothing to lure us into sin and destroy us. But if we, like Joseph, listen to and follow God’s voice, he will always rescue us from the devil’s snares.