Homily for December 28, 2016. Feast of Holy Innocents.
Bible Study: 1 John 1: 5-2:2, Matthew 2:13 -18
Today we celebrate a rather painful episode of the Christmas story; the great massacre of innocent children by King Herod. Some questions that bother the mind of many upon reflection on today’s feast is: “Where is God when bad things happen? Was it the case that God was not aware beforehand that Herod was planning such evil? How come he did not remove it from Herod’s mind, yet he sent an Angel to warn Joseph in a dream to flee with Mary and the child at night? How come God did not also send Angels to warn the fathers of all other babies whom Herod slaughtered? Was it a crime to have been born almost at the same time at Jesus in Palestine that year?”
That bad things happen to good and innocent persons is something that we cannot completely comprehend. However, nothing should ever make us lose faith in God or assume he does not care or that he is powerless. God is there, he sees everything, he knows everything and he has never stopped being God. All he demands from us especially when things get really rough with us is TRUST. St. Paul would assure us that all things work unto good for those who love God. Romans 8, 28. Sometimes a lot of good can still come out from situations we describe as terrible.
On the other hand, let us put ourselves in the shoes of Herod. If for instance, you hear for instance that somebody is coming to take over your position as the Managing Director of a multi-national company, would you just sit there and fold your hands? If as a wife, you see that your husband begins to give too much attention to another lady outside the house, would you do nothing? If you were told that everything you have worked for and all that your family possesses which you have inherited would be taken away from you and given to somebody else, wouldn’t you try to stop it?
At times, we pray the worst prayers over the people who seem to threaten our position, our wealth, our children or our precious possessions. Little do we realise that each time, we are trying to fight our so called “enemy”, each time we send arrows to them, to prevent them from ever succeeding, we are simply being Herods. I am sure if you ask Herod, he would tell you, he didn’t do anything wrong by ordering the death of those innocent children. He would tell you that he acted in self-defence. He heard a king would be born in his kingdom and he did all he could to prevent another king rising. He tried to protect what ws rightfully his.
Dear friends, haven’t we killed so many innocent people with our lips by speaking ill of them simply because they were a threat to us? This is why our first reading this morning from the letter of St. John says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1, 8 to 10.
Today is not a day to feel hatred for Herod over what he did, neither is it a day to recount the people who have committed similar atrocities against their fellow man. Today is a day for us to look inwards and ask ourselves how well we have fed the Herod that is in us. Today is a day for us to examine ourselves and recount bad things we may have done to people to the extent that even our victims had to cry to God to also ask him why he allowed us do such evil things to them.
Today is a day for us to examine our fears and ask ourselves what is it that we are trying to hold on to. That is, what are we afraid of losing for which we are prepared to kill? Did we bring anything to this life? Are we going to take anything with us when we die? So why are we so scared of losing the things that we must lose eventually? Did Herod not eventually die and leave the throne for another person? Was he thinking that by killing the innocent children, he would reign for ever? Does he know whether the throne went to his son or someone else?
There is something about destiny and competition. At times, we engage in very useless competition with people forgetting that who God has said he will be, he must be. We try to stop people from outshining us and we waste a lot of time and energy, we even have sleepless nights just to prevent others from overtaking us, yet after everything, we cannot stop the will of God from happening. A little boy you brought up may eventually become your master tomorrow and if that is how God want it, there is nothing you can do about it. Your driver, your house-help, that “useless thing” may eventually become your saviour tomorrow so why being a Herod for nothing.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to trust you even thing are hard. Amen. In a special way, I pray for the repose of the twenty two children who died in a ghastly motor accident on their way to attend my diaconate ordination on December 17, 2011. These were innocent children who wanted to see for the first time how people are ordained, they did not attend the ceremony physically but were there in spirit. Have mercy on them and grant them a place in your kingdom O Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you and Merry Christmas