December 28 – Holy Innocents

Matt 2:13-18

The Flight to Egypt


Egypt, the cradle of ancient civilization, is north of Africa.

Egypt was a natural haven for the Jews. “Every city in Egypt had its colony of Jews. And when Joseph and Mary reached Egypt they would not find  themselves amidst strangers, for in every town and city, they would find Jews who had sought refuge there.”

For many, Egypt is a place of withdrawal or flight to keep one’s sanity, inner strength and peace, if not for mere protection. It is a place of intimate encounter with God, a place where one can sort out inner conflict and conflict of relationship.

In our journey with Christ can we identify our own “Egypt” in times of conflict situations?

The Holy Family did not at all stay in Egypt for good. They left Egypt, returned to Israel, and made their home in Nazareth. Why? Because the Lord had said through the prophet, “I called my son out of Egypt” and “He will be called a Nazarene.”\indeed, one’s “Egypt” is not meant to be a permanent place of withdrawal, but an initial stage of self-confrontation prior to a stage where one could say, “I shall return to bring peace, harmony and salvation.” (Fr. Mio Sombrio, SVD Bible Diary 2002)


This is one day in the whole year wherein we are very alert and ready for anyone who will try to make of us an object of jokes and laughter. We detest becoming the “Inosente”. Woe to you if you fall a victim of this. On the other hand, one who has never learned to laugh at one self will always have a very difficult time accepting jokes directed at oneself. (Fr. Carlos Lariosa, SVD Bible Diary 2004)


Today is Ninos Inocentes (Holy Innocents) Day. The feast commemorates the massacre of the infant boys “from two years old and under,” by the jealous, insecure King Herod who heard about the new-born king.

On this day we recall the horrors and grief of mothers over the slaughter of innocent children which compelled Joseph to “take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt.”

Trials and sufferings had hounded Christ right from birth ‘til his death. Although Son of God, he was not immune from sufferings. Sufferings, Jesus wants to say, is part and parcel of human life.

On this feast of Holy Innocents, we think, too, of the millions of children massacred through abortion or innocently victimized by parental neglect and child labor and all forms of abuse. All of these cry to heaven for vengeance.

In the Philippines, Ninos Inocentes Day has become notorious for pranks and mischief by people out to take advantage of the unwary, innocent and gullible.

For instance, if some “relative” or “friend” tries to borrow money or someone rings you up saying that your father abroad or a relative in the province has died, beware!

Double check the source or inquire further. It might all just be a prank or mischief.

On the feast of Holy Innocents, ask yourself: What I am doing to protect the life of the innocent? While suffering is part of human existence, am I doing something positive to alleviate the sufferings of people, especially helpless and innocent children? (Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


….The same dangers also threatened the life of the child Jesus. Herod was so blinded by his craving for perpetual power that he would not allow anybody to threaten his position, including innocent children. The Feast of the Holy Innocents, massacred on the order of Herod, may dampen the joyous celebration of the birth of Christ. But the nearness of these two feasts has a meaning: the life of Jesus is composed of both happy and sad realities. Persecution and suffering accompanied his life until the end.

Here is a legend fitting for this feast: Tired on their way to Egypt on a cold night, Mary and Joseph found a cave where they rested. On the entrance of the cave, a spider is said to have webbed a net in order to protect the family from being caught by the soldiers of Herod. When the soldiers passed by the cave in search for the child, they saw that the cobweb was intact. So they thought that the cave was abandoned for a long time and nobody was inside. They did not go inside the cave, thus sparing the life of Jesus!

Like the little spider, we could do more to protect the children, to care for them and to help them live a promising life! (Fr. Adonis Narcelles, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


The story is told about a husband who gifted his wife with a bracelet. When the wife asked him why the sudden surprise, he responded: “A four-letter word made me do it.” You mean “LOVE”? she asked with a thrilled smile. “No,” he responded, “SALE.”

What is the four letter word that made Herod kill so many innocent children? “FEAR!” and that is the very same four-letter word that often makes us hurt so many innocent people around us.

Because of our fear of being uncovered, we often resort to lying and compromise in our decisions, words and actions. Because of our fear of loneliness and rejection, we often sell out on our principles and on our very souls.

There is a beautiful prayer, the driver’s prayer that says: “Grant me, O Lord, a steady hand, a watchful eye, so that no one will be hurt as I pass by…”

As we journey on in life, may we not hurt people. How many people are unhappy because of us?

The Herod in us should die, that part of us which eliminates or steps on others just to get going up, and going up ahead. Instead of fear, let love move us, and when we are free, it does not really matter whether we are up or down, ahead or behind. If we love, we are not afraid of anything or of anyone and we do not need to control, manipulate or eliminate anything or anyone. (Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


December 28, 2012

The Holy Innocents, martyrs
(Feast) RED

1 Jn 1:5—2:2
Ps 124
Mt 2:13-18

Mt 2:13-18
The Flight to Egypt

13When [the magi] had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” 14Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. 15He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. 17Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:/ 18“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.”


The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph. Joseph appears only twice in the gospels. In both instances, the sequence is the same: an angel appears to Joseph, Joseph is commanded to do something, and he carries out the divine mandate.

In the first instance (Mt 1:20-24), Joseph is told to take Mary his wife into his home and to name her son Jesus. And in today’s Gospel, Joseph is instructed to take Mary and Jesus in exile to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous quest of the Child.

In neither case is there any recorded response from Joseph. But actions speak louder than words. Joseph listens, obeys, and does what he is commanded to do. Joseph follows the angel’s instructions for the safety of Jesus and Mary, for the love of his family.

People brighten up the lives of others by their service, help, availability, and sacrifice. We are thus challenged to bring light to others, keep our family one and intact, sacrifice out of love for a better future of the children, be dedicated and faithful, like Joseph.

God wants our safety and works for our protection. He uses and sends people to save and protect us. He may rouse us, too, and send us to save and protect other people.

“The greatest gift parents can give their children is their love for each other.” How true is this saying?


Feast of the Holy Innocents (Year C)

Mateo 2:13-18. Kinsa man ang mga Herodes ning modernong panahon? Atong gihandum karon ang mga gagmay’ng bata nga sa walay kalooy gipamatay ni Hari Herodes. Atong masabtan sa ebanghelyo nga gibuhat kini ni Herodes tungod sa iyang kahadlok nga mapulihan sa iyang trono pinaagi sa batang matawo nga mahimong hari sa mga Hudeyo. Sa atong panahon karon, ang pagpamatay sa mga bata nagpadayon pinaagi sa aborsyon. Ang mga aborsyonista ug ang mga tawo nga nagsuporta sa aborsyon mao ang mga bag-ong Herodes. Wala silay kahadlok o pagtahod sa Ginoo nga maoy tag-iya sa tanang kinabuhi sa tawo. Ang gipamatay ni Herodes gamay ra kaayo nga itandi sa kadaghan sa mga bata karon nga gipangpatay sa matag adlaw pinaagi sa aborsyon. (Fr Abet Uy)


See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: December 28 (Holy Innocents)

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