Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study – Christmastime – December 28 – The Holy Innocents – Matthew 2:13-18
The Gospel for the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents is Matthew 2:13-18.
Following Christ’s humble birth in Bethlehem, Wise Men (the Magi) travel from the East (likely Persia), compelled by the sign of a star in the sky; this fulfills a 1200 year-old prophecy of Christ’s birth (Num 24:17). The Wise Men mistakenly disclose their mission to locate the Christ child to the evil King Herod. Warned in a dream by God of Herod’s intention, the Wise Men avoid Herod after paying homage to Christ and return to their homeland.
Herod’s grave threat to Jesus is also revealed to Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer. Responding in faith, absolute obedience and urgency to the angel’s warnings about Herod’s murderous intent, St. Joseph immediately acts to protect the young Virgin Mother and the newborn Babe Jesus. Waking from the dream in the middle of the night, Joseph takes Mary and Jesus to Egypt, an arduous and dangerous journey of several hundred miles. The Magi’s gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh sustained the Holy Family as Joseph sought work as a carpenter in Egypt. The Holy Family remained in Egypt until Herod’s death, returning to Nazareth when Christ was a young child; this fulfills Hosea’s prophecy (Hos 11:1) which echoes Israel’s deliverance in the Exodus and foresees Christ’s own return from Egypt.
King Herod’s evil is documented in non-biblical sources (murders multiple wives and sons and many others). Furious that the Wise Men did not reveal Christ’s location and paranoid about the threat of Christ’s coming kingship, Herod had all the male children under age of 2 of Bethlehem murdered. These Holy Innocents are considered to be the first Christian martyrs.
Awed by Jesus Christ – Son of God, Christ is protected by the Father through the intercession of angels. Son of Man, Christ is protected by His foster father Joseph and cared for by the Virgin Mary; the gifts of the mysterious Wise Men also helped the Holy Family.
Being a Heroic Catholic Man
1) God the Father’s plan of Salvation History through His Son can not be stopped by even the most powerful of men. Marvel at how God works through angels, the Wise Men and Joseph and Mary to protect His Son.
2) From Christ through today, the Church has always valiantly sought to protect children: the Gospels mourn the loss of the Holy Innocents, God’s intervention to protect Jesus, Joseph’s heroic actions, the Didache (1st century Church doctrine) forbids abortion and infanticide. During Christmastime, renew your understanding of the evil of Abortion (CCC 2270-2275, 2322) and ask Christ to help you to grow in vigilance for the protection of unborn and born children.
3) While almost all fathers would defend their children to the death from physical abuse, many Catholic fathers fail to protect their children from the spiritual abuse (corruptive media, bad “friends”, perverted ideologies, consumerism, etc.); while most men have the vocation to be biological fathers, every single Catholic man is called to be a spiritual father. During Christmastime, review the Duties of Catholic Fathers (CCC 5, 1653, 1656, 2221-2231, 2688) and pray that Christ strengthen you to be a spiritual father to your own and other children.