Christmas Feasts 2: Holy Innocence
Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs, Dec. 28
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
From the Gospel for Dec. 28, 2018, Feast of the Holy Innocents (Matthew 2:13-18)
When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
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.
In the scene before the Gospel reading, the magi had approached Herod asking where was “the newborn king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2)
The magi had expected to find the newborn king in the palace as an heir apparent. Instead, King Herod was greatly troubled by this and immediately began conspiring to eliminate this threat to his power. The magi were warned in a dream and left Israel without revealing where the infant Jesus was being protected.
King Herod searched for “the child” among children, destroying all, hoping one among them was the newborn King. Herod ordered a massacre of all boys under the age of two in order to seek the life of one hidden in a manger. In so doing, these children took the place of Jesus before the sword of Herod. They took the place of Him who would take our place in the debt of sin.
We call these martyrs the “Holy Innocents.” The atrocity of this massacre highlights our shared end: death. Death, however, in unity with the mission and person of Christ, also brings us to life everlasting with the Father.
Today, let us earnestly pray for our children, for their protection and their growth in holiness. The Church has official blessings ready on behalf of her children, usually offered by deacons or priests. However, there is one that is written for parents to bestow over their own children (see below). What a wonderful day to formally bless our children!
Daily Blessing of a Child
Parent makes sign of the cross on child’s forehead or heart and says:
“May God bless you.
May God keep you safe.
God be with you.
God be in your heart.
May God bless and protect you.”