Christmas is one of the most – if not the most – popular Fest in the world!
This Fest is – besides the spiritual nourishment – greatly celebrated…
… with a lot of joy and merriment
… with the aspect of renewing relationships through get-togethers
… with a great deal of decorations and festoons to amplify the exciting tone
But for a moment, when we think of the very First Christmas Night…
… we being to understand that such was not exactly the mood back then!
There were many elements on that First Christmas Night which were actually very ordinary and some even, sad and scandalizing!
… the long and arduous travel of the “expectant Mother with Child ”and the ‘uncertain father’ towards Bethlehem!
… the Holy Family failing to find a place in the inn (perhaps, refused to be given a place!)
… the birth of the Messiah, the Creator of the entire universe, in a manger – which was actually the place of feeding for the animals!
… the terrifying and indecisive flight into Egypt!
As the famous Carol goes, it was in all probability more of a “Silent Night…”!
Another importantly sad and scandalizing event was that of the “Killing of the Innocents” under the age of two, at the order of King Herod ( Mt 2: 16-18)
On this fourth Day of the Christmas Octave, Dec 28th, Holy Mother the Church commemorates The Holy Innocents.
The news that a new King of the Jews was born, caused great ordeal for King Herod (Mt 2: 3)
>> He became all the more furious, when he heard that the Magi had deceived him (Mt 2:16)
The easiest solution found was to kill all the males under the age of two.
To react negatively, in a situation of hardship, often seems to be the easiest way out.
>> But it is an extremely cheap and low way of going about
But Herod fell into this snare of “negative reaction” and had little babies killed.
>> These little babies, too little and young to form a will and a desire to love…
… became martyrs of Blood (Mt 2:16)
St Augustine would say, “they are the first buds of the Church killed by the frost of persecution; they died not only for Christ, but in his stead!”
The number of children killed is uncertain.
There are a number of views on the actual number of children who were killed.
>> The Byzantine Liturgy (Greek) says that Herod killed 14, 000 boys
>> The Syrian Liturgy speaks of 64,000.
>> Another scholarly study suggests that Bethlehem was a very small town, at the time of Jesus, with a population of maybe 300. The number of children below the age of two could be very less – maybe six or seven.
But the fact remains, that it was a tragic gravely foul and grievously painful.
The death of the little children is a reminder that our earthly life is a pilgrimage…
… to be oriented for the eternal life in heaven
The dreadful massacre of the innocent children can easily cause a question to arise in us:
>> Why did God allow the helpless death of the children before their own parents?
>> Why did these little children have to be murdered, for saving the Divine Child?
>> Could not God have planned a noble way of saving Him?
Such questions can easily cause our faith to be disturbed or even be scandalized by the ways of God
But it brings home an important truth: Our earthly life is a pilgrimage.
>> No one knows how long we will live – some die in infancy, some in their old age; some die prepared, some suddenly and tragically.
This is the reality that we find in the world – we like it or not, we accept or not.
It therefore, is a call for us, to nurture life in the best way possible…
>>> Our own lives by living in holiness and fidelity to the Will of God
>>> Preserving, nurturing and enhancing the lives of others – including the little infants in the wombs.
This commemoration of the Holy Innocents is a reminder to open our eyes to see the tragedies of the world and become courageous torch-bearers of justice
This passage of King Herod and the Holy Innocents, might sometimes seem to be like…
… “the unwarranted bone” in the tasty meal of Christmas
… or the “jarring note” in the melodious music of Christ’s Nativity.
We often like to live in “cozy and comfortable” situations – even if it means, closing our eyes to the stark and tragic realities of life
But it is the obligation of every Christian to “get out of every comfort zone”…
… and enter into the “suffering sections” of the society, and give them hope, consolation and life.
The “cry of the mothers of the innocent children”…
… Mt 2:18 – “A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation”…
is also a “Carol”, that is heard every Christmas
Yes, may we deeply understand that Christmas – the birth of Christ, ought to not simply be a “festival of fun or frolic”…
… but also should lead us to hear the many “cries of innocents” today – the oppressed and the abused, the voiceless and the helpless, the sinful and the lonely etc.
Christmas is surely, one of the most – if not the most – popular Fest in the world!
But let not this Fest be drowned only in external celebrations and merriment
>> Rather, let it also be an occasion for all of us to renew our commitment to the cause of justice and peace in the world, and make this earthly pilgrimage more meaningful!
Salutations to the Holy Innocents and Glory to the Divine Babe, Jesus!
God Bless! Live Jesus!