Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 63 – Feast of the Holy Innocents

Who’s Side Are We On?

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could see a little baby as a threat, yet that is what we see recounted in our gospel today. When Jesus was born, the shepherds and magi see in the Christ Child a savior. Herod, however, sees only a rival to be feared and eliminated. The “Holy Innocents” we celebrate today are all those little babies that Herod had murdered in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus. Sadly, this event is not the first such occurrence in Scripture. When the Israelites grew numerous in Egypt, Pharaoh also sensed a rival and thus ordered all the babies to be thrown in the river. Despite this attempt, Moses, like Jesus, escaped the plot. The important point in these stories is to recognize that God’s plan was brought about even in spite of these murderous efforts to thwart it. Many babies died in Egypt and Bethlehem and yet Moses and Jesus remained safe. God’sĀ plan was accomplished.

Sadly, some today continue to look upon children as an inconvenience just as Pharaoh and Herod did. Like them, people continue to make the mistake of thinking that killing babies will eliminate our problems. No, the Scripture shows us clearly that God’s will is done. The readings speak today of light and darkness. The magi are in darkness, and yet they see the star and follow the light. They are willing to go out of their way, to change their lives to conform to God’sĀ guidance. The magi find their way to the light. We too are often given the choice between light and darkness.

This day which commemorates the sad slaughter of so many innocent children in Bethlehem is somewhat ironically a feast day on our calendar, a day for celebrating. We celebrate the fact that Herod’s plan failed. Not only did Jesus survive, but the lives of the little babies were not snuffed out as Herod had planned. Rather, these children now live forever in heaven where they intercede for us. Yes, we rejoice to see that God’s plan is triumphant even in the face of great opposition and evil. Light will always be triumphant over darkness. The only question that remains is, “Who’s side are we going to be on?”

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