From Tragedy to Glory – Feast of the Holy Innocents
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.Matthew 2:16
Today on the fourth day of the Octave of Christmas, we see out of envy and hatred, Herod had countless innocent children killed in an attempt to eliminate Jesus, the newborn King. How is this same envy and hatred playing out in our world today?
The Tragedy—and the Glory—of the Holy Innocents
Joseph woke Mary and the Child, took their few possessions, and went out into the darkness of the night towards Egypt. As he traveled, Joseph must have thought about how his life had changed since Nazareth. For years he had lived a quiet life of work and worship. Then Mary came along—Mary, the Promised Woman—and his life began to be lifted up to the heights and cast down to the depths. And now, this choice. Yes, he would obey the angel. He would take no chances. It didn’t matter that he went into a strange country. He would not question God’s plan. He had learned in Bethlehem that God would provide for them. His only obligation was to follow his will—God would take care of the details…. It is certain that his faith was stronger every time he looked upon the Mother and her Child….
The Holy Family were the first Innocents to suffer for the sake of the kingdom, but there were more. Secret thoughts began to reveal themselves, as Simeon had foretold. As the Holy Family fled into Egypt, Herod sent his soldiers to Bethlehem and its surrounding district and ordered them to kill every child two years and under…. What a terrifying event. Babes at the breast and in cradles were all suddenly snatched away from loving arms and brutally murdered.
We can look back and realize how privileged they were. They died that he might live, so that he in turn could die that all mankind might live. But the parents of those children did not see the future or purpose of this tragedy. Perhaps there is a lesson for all of us in this incident. We must trust his wisdom and providence in all the heartaches and tragedies of life, even though we may see their purpose and benefit only in eternity. The parents of these children must have received tremendous graces from the Father as their children became the new kingdom’s first martyrs. Yes, God would bring good out of evil. One thing is certain, this massacre brought the coming of the Messiah to the attention of the entire populace. Herod’s pride made him think he had destroyed the Messiah. And so again the Deceiver was deceived.
This reflection from Mother Angelica of the Annunciation, p.c.p.a. was originally published in Magnificat a wonderful resource to grown in faith. Consider a subscription to Magnificat today!