Today, the Holy Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Innocents. On this day with in the Christmas octave we remember the many little boys who were murdered in Jesus’ times all because of one man’s insecurities. This was probably the first pain that Mary had to bear knowing that these innocent children were being killed because of her son Jesus. She had to really be full of grace to have endured this.
The Holy Bible does not say a whole lot about Joseph. In today’s Gospel though, Joseph played an important role in Jesus’ life. Joseph was definitely a man of God, whose desire it was to do God’s will. We saw this when he discovered that Mary was with child before they came to live together. And after he had decided to part with her privately, not wanting to cause her any embarrassment, the angel came to him and told him what he was to do. Joseph obeyed and took Mary as his wife. In today’s Gospel, we see Herod aggravated because the wise men outsmarted him, since his plan was to kill the Infant Jesus. Because he did not know who Jesus was, he decided to kill every male child around Jesus’ age. So again the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him to take the child and his mother and flee into Egypt. Joseph being a man obedience to God did not wait until it was morning. He took the child and his mother and fled to Egypt in the cover of the night.
Joseph was protecting Jesus and Mary his mother. To do this he had to listen to what God was saying. If we are to protect our children, we must listen to what God is saying. We cannot compromise on what God is saying to us. If we do, it may well be at the demise, be it physical or otherwise, of our children.
The first reading starts by telling us, “This is the message which we have heard from him and announced to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness we lie, and don’t tell the truth.”
Joseph was in the light and therefore it was easy for him to listen to and to obey what God was saying to him with regards to the Child Jesus. Very many of our children go the wrong way simply because their parents are not in the light. Much of what can be shown and given to that child is darkness. Neither can a parent be living in darkness and try to teach their child what is right. The conflict between the two, the double standards that are being played out may cause more harm than good to the child.
This year has been a particularly challenging one for many hundreds of thousands of families who have had to relocate because of strife, because of wars, famine and all the other catastrophes that we have seen throughout our very wounded world. Some of the most heartbreaking pictures that has been seen this year were with children caught in the middle of this human suffering. Children who had experienced the execution of their family members. Children who have been bathed in blood. Children crying out for the parent. Children left wondering through the debris of completely demolished cities. Children who became refugees. Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that Jesus too was a refugee. He two at a very tender age with his parents, had to run away from the rantings of a madman. I believe that Jesus has a very special place in his heart for the homeless, for the displaced, and for refugees. What is hour approach to refugees? Do we see them as fellow human beings who are in need? Do we recognize that as St. Paul says, “there go I, but for the grace of God”? Do we understand that it is only by God’s grace that the tables have not turned on us? How do we see refugees? Are they a burden on the economy? Are they a humbug?
Here in Trinidad and Tobago, we are having an influx of refugees from our neighboring Venezuela because of the political and economical strife and hardship being experienced there. What should our response to them be? We should choose wisely as our salvation may depend on our choice.
Earlier on today, Pope Francis tweeted the following message, “Today we pray for all the children who are not allowed to be born, who cry with hunger, who hold weapons in their hands instead of toys.”
So today we remember first and foremost our children, and we pray for those who are most vulnerable. We pray for those children who do not experience the love that they should. We pray for those who have been abandoned; for those who are left to fend for themselves; for those who are victims of abuse; that God In His Infinite Mercy, will deliver them and heal them.
Today, we also remember the millions of refugees throughout our world. We pray to God that the Light of Christ Jesus will so permeate their existence, bringing hope into what may otherwise seem to be a hopeless situation.
We pray for the Harods of today. We pray for those in authority who use their power to instill fear and destruction in the lives of others. We pray oh God, for their conversion. We pray for the dismantlement of every one of the evil plans and schemes.
Finally, we pray for those of us who are called to make a positive difference in the lives of children; we asked oh God that you grant us the grace to abide in your light and in your truth, so that we too will become light, we too will become truth to these your little ones.