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Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs
When 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.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He 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. When 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. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, this is a difficult passage. Your ways can be hard to understand. Open my heart and my mind so I can hear your voice speaking to me through your word.
- Does It Sound Familiar?: The story of the flight into Egypt is not the first time in the Bible where God shows us what he is able to accomplish when human weakness and even sin come into the picture. Remember Joseph and the colored tunic story in the Old Testament? There are a few parallels between the two stories. Both stories ended in Egypt and both Josephs were led there by dreams. Both times their stay in Egypt was brought about by others’ sin. Joseph in the Old Testament was sold as a slave because his brothers were jealous. St. Joseph, in the New Testament story, led the Holy Family to Egypt because of Herod’s jealousy. As we think about how hard it must have been for the Holy Family to flee to an unknown land, we can remember that evil doesn’t have the last word in God’s plan. Divine Providence, in both cases, integrated mysterious human ways into the great story of salvation.
- The Mystery of Human Freedom: The story of the flight to Egypt reminds us that nothing escapes God’s providence. Today’s Gospel passage mentions two prophecies that were fulfilled despite Herod’s evil choices. Ever since Adam and Eve fell into original sin, and all through salvation history, as illustrated in the Old Testament story of Joseph, God writes straight with crooked lines. We see this too in the crucifixion of Christ—out of the greatest evil ever imagined, God was able to bring about the greatest good: the salvation of all. So many questions arise in our human minds. Can someone’s evil act be God’s will at the same time? Why does God allow the innocent to die? When we bring our questions to God, we allow him to answer with his presence, to show us who he is—the Lord of life and history. He won’t necessarily unravel the mysteries we ponder, but he will infuse our souls with grace and peace as we allow his providence to become evident in our own lives, in our own salvation history.
- St. Joseph’s Obedience: Like St. Joseph’s obedience, our obedience many times involves responding in moments when things don’t seem to go according to God’s plan. We can imagine how difficult it might have been for St. Joseph. Did he wonder why God allowed his family to be in such danger? Or why so many children died at Herod’s hand? Many times we expect God’s plan to be free of evil. That expectation was dashed when Adam and Eve committed the original sin. God reminds us that in this world we experience imperfection—other people’s and our own. The story of redemption teaches us that obedience to God’s will is not about making sure things are perfect. Obedience to God’s will is trusting that he will show us the way, as he showed St. Joseph. As Christians, we believe that God draws greater good from evil when we remain in him and let him lead.
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I believe that nothing escapes your providential gaze. Help me believe that you draw good out of the evil I see around me and the things that have hurt me in the past. And if the mystery is too deep, or too painful to grasp in this moment, bring your peace to my soul so that I may heal through your divine power.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an act of trust, remembering that you are with me and you will lead me through any difficulties or injustices that I experience.
For Further Reflection: Reflect on the Catechism of the Catholic Church 309-324 on God’s providence and the mystery of evil.
Gaby Ruiloba is from Aguascalientes, Mexico. She consecrated her life to God in Regnum Christi in 2009 and currently ministers at Everest Collegiate High School & Academy in Clarkston, Michigan.