Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Our Gospel reading (MT 2: 13-18) guides us through the story of Joseph being warned by an angel about the impending danger for the baby Jesus. Joseph responds immediately to the angels’ warning by fleeing to Egypt and remaining there until the death of Herod and the danger had passed. Jesus escaped the vengeance of Herod but the Holy Innocents, all the young boys in Bethlehem did not. Shortly after the birth of Jesus, a time when Christians pause in adoration, these unsuspecting children, became the church’s first martyrs. And so it is that shortly after Christmas, we pause to remember innocent lives sacrificed to calm the fear of just one person.
Herod was certainly fearful of what would happen to him if a new ruler would rise to power. Nothing was going to keep him from protecting his position of power. We too are often caught in the grips of fear when we perceive something will enter our little protected world and bring change or worse yet, eliminate the need for our presence. It’s easy to fall into this trap and lash out at all those around us in a protective nature just as Herod lashed out at all those innocent children. We can too often be just like Herod and kill with our words or unkind behaviors. Sadly, it doesn’t matter the sweetness we discover in Christmas or the kindnesses others show us. We so very quickly throw aside those good things and react in a furious rage.
I think of some simple advice which has been attributed to Blessed Mother Theresa. So today, as we remember all those who have been sacrificed, may we remember to not sacrifice others in order to protect our egos. Instead, let us rejoice in Love which wants only to dwell in our hearts. May we have the strength to follow Blessed Mother Theresa’s wise advice in her writing known by many:
Do It Anyway
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway
– Sandra Monier – Assistant Director of Retreat Ministry, St Paul of the Cross Retreat Center, Pittsburgh