The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homily: Feast of Holy Innocents (Dec 28)

Readings: 1 Jn 1:5-2:2; Ps 124; Mt 2:13-18

More than any other day in the liturgical year, Christmas is a celebration of life. It’s the day we celebrate the remarkable gift of the Father – the gift in which He gives us His Son, Jesus Christ, by having Him share in our human life, by becoming one of us. On this day God sends Himself into the world. The Word is made flesh and dwells among us. He becomes Emmanuel – God with us. Yes, Christmas is a wonderful manifestation of God’s love for us. It shows how greatly He cherishes His gift of life.

Herod orders the slaughter of Innocents - Altamura Cathedral, Puglia, Italy
But in today’s Gospel reading we witness how man so often rejects this gift. Herod, so afraid of losing his earthly power, a power that cannot last, turns that fear into hate, and that hate into the destruction of innocent life. Like many of today’s political leaders, Herod foolishly believes he can defeat the will of God. Driven by fear and hatred, he becomes a mass murderer of the most innocent among his people.

Today we are faced with something very similar, but really something far worse. Since 1973 over 50 million of our nation’s most innocent have been slaughtered by abortion. And that’s just a small percentage of the global total. It’s time to stop this child-killing and put the Life back into Christmas.

And I’m convinced this won’t come about through politics. No, it will happen only when we as God’s People undergo a change of heart, when we all begin to lead the Christian life the Gospel calls us to lead.

Catherine Doherty, Servant of God and founder of Madonna House, phrased it best when she titled her book, The Gospel Without Compromise.

We can start by following St. Joseph and obeying God’s commandments – quite simply, doing what He tells us, even if He tells us to get up in the middle of the night and go to Egypt.

We are called also to love, and that means loving even the Herods of today’s world. Love them into God's kingdom by calling them to repentance, forgiving them, praying and suffering for them, and sharing the love of Jesus with them.

We, too, are called to repentance, to ask God to heal our apathy, our lack of faith. As John told us in our reading today, "If we acknowledge our sins, He Who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong" [1 Jn 1:9]. When we are right with God and His Church, when we repent and accept God's forgiveness, all things are possible.

You see, brothers and sisters, you and I aren’t battling people. No our real battle is with Satan. By prayer and fasting we can drive out the demons of abortion and hatred. 

And finally we can fix our eyes always on Jesus Christ. It is He who welcomes those innocents into the Kingdom, and it is He who can forgive those who took their precious lives. Only Jesus Christ, and the grace He showers on us through His holy Church, can save us from our sinfulness and from eternal death. Only Jesus Christ can give us the gift of life, eternal life…for He is the Lord of Life.

We must never forget that.

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