FRIDAY HOMILY: Holy Innocents, Selfishness and Abortion
nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others." (Phil 2:3,4)
It is out of that call that we must continue to do whatever we can to turn the hearts of fathers and mothers to their unborn children and protect the lives of millions of holy innocents.
It would seem that those slaughtered by Herod are sharing that day with many others throughout the centuries. These are children who killed because they were an inconvenience, a competition for time attention and love. Or in the case of Sandy Hook Elementary, simply school children who fell within the rifle sight of evil.
So how can we best honor these tiny martyrs?
Honor their sacrifice by our life and witness
First, we can make their sacrifice worthwhile through our commitment to Christ. Obviously, they did not die in vain, yet each one who honors Christ with his or her life and witness gives greater value to their offering.
I still remember many years ago having a conversation with a friend who had served in the Army during Vietnam. Since I was also a Vietnam Veteran (Navy) we had a lot to talk about.
He mentioned that he had been a gunner on a helicopter and had lost several friends during his time in-country. Upon his discharge, he said that for the longest time he felt badly that he had lived and they had not. He said the only thing that made their sacrifice worthwhile was for him to live his life as best as he could.
As Paul said to the Romans, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present yourself as a living sacrifice unto God which is your reasonable service of worship." (Rom. 12:1)
There's an old saying that the only problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps trying to climb down off the altar. We must remain steadfast in our commitment to Christ and not let convenience and comfort dull our spiritual senses.
Jesus reminded us of the work we must do to maintain the seed of His Word in our hearts. In the parable of the soils, it is the garden of the heart and, more particularly, the soil found there that must be cultivated. Depending on what our hearts are like, there is seed choked of by the weeds of other "stuff" found there, seed dried up due to the hardness and seed stolen by enemies of life.
Walk in the Light as He is in the Light
The children were not willing martyrs nor unwilling. They simply had no voice or decision to make. They were not only tiny martyrs; they were surprised by martyrdom.
While Herod was preparing for the slaughter, Joseph was warned to take Mary and the child to Egypt and wait. For all his cunning, the ruler had miscalculated the fact he was dealing with the God of the universe.
How often we forget that, when it comes to our faith, we are living in a supernatural world. We do not embrace a self-help approach where we can figure things out. Grace is much more effective; we can receive this grace from God as we partake of his love.
Just like Herod, we can forget that God is God and we're not. He not only can inspire prophecy, He can make sure it comes true. " How good it is to remember to through the sacraments we, too, participate in the supernatural dimension of the living God.
During his homily for the Solemnity of the Epiphany in January of 2011, Pope Benedict XVI stated, "Herod is an unsympathetic figure to us, one we instinctively judge negatively because of his brutality. Yet we should ask ourselves whether there is not perhaps something of Herod in us too...
"We must remove all idea of rivalry from our minds and hearts, the idea that giving space to God is a limit to the self. We must open ourselves to the certainty that God is omnipotent love, which takes away nothing, which threatens nothing. Quite the contrary, He is the only One capable of offering us the chance to live a full life and to experience true joy.
St. John states in our first reading, "if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin."
Walking in the light of our Lord's teachings and trusting in His sacrifice for our sins form two key portions of our life in Christ. These are not simply tokens of information from one who is enlightened; we remain enlightened by what had taken place.
Speak for those who cannot speak
St. Quodvultdeus, a bishop, wrote many centuries ago, "The children die for Christ, though they do not know it. The parents mourn for the death of martyrs. The child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself."
While the innocents had loving mothers and fathers, there was no one in authority who would or could speak for them. They were seen as property not persons and Herod wanted desperately to rid himself of a potential competitor for the crown.
For today's society to take seriously the cause of the unborn, we have to rise up as a unified voice. This is paramount.
Every year at the March for Life, I am astounded by the sheer number of participants - particularly among the young. I'm floored by the enthusiasm of those who attend. The number is exponentially higher than what the mainstream media reports.
With all of this, however, we still need more voices from every face of Christianity working together. The culture of death needs to know this is not a feeble declaration; that there are many who speak for the unborn. This is the key!
Quodvultdeus ends his homily with the challenge. "How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.
The death of these tiny martyrs should stir us to action. They were innocent as were those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary and in other violent attacks.
The 56 million who have died through abortion share this same status of martyrdom. To them especially we owe a debt to continue to stand for Life no matter what. One-third of a generation has been killed and the shedding of blood hasn't stopped.
"A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Holy Innocients, martyrdom
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