THE HOLY INNOCENTS DAY (DECEMBER 28) (Red)
Heavenly Father, whose children suffered at the hands of Herod, though
they had done no wrong: give us grace neither to act cruelly nor to stand
indifferently by, but to defend the weak from the tyranny of the strong; in
the name of Jesus Christ who suffered for us, but is alive and reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Old Testament: Jer. 31:15-17 Psalm:124
Epistle: I Peter 4:12-16 Gospel: Matt. 2:13-19 (BCP, CHURCH OF NIGERIA ANGLICAN COMMUNION)
The feast of the Holy Innocent Day is a day Christian faithful all over the world remember the cruelty of King Herod the great towards little children after the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. When he heard that a Messiah is born who will rule over Israel, he became envious and wrought especially when the 3 wise men failed to return words to him regarding the birth place of the child Jesus. He sent forth his army to the town of Bethlehem to kill every male child of two years and below.
Prior to this massacre, the Angel of the Lord had appeared to Joseph in a dream to take the mother and child (Jesus) to Egypt until the death of Herod.
Jeremiah 31:15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
Prophet Jeremiah in the above scriptures has prophesy of this very cruity. These children murdered were innocent and did nothing to deserve their death, this reminds me of same event which took place in Egypt during the birth time of Moses when king pharaoh charge the midwives to kill every male child born of the Hebrew women, all in fear of over taking his kingdom.
This feast day is very essential to the church, first for Christ escape from untimely death which would have aborted His mission on earth and second for the souls of the innocent children who were killed. We also use this day to speak against abortion and cruelty of all manner such as child trafficking, child molestations and abuses. These things are evil and should not be heard among the bride of Christ.
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
1 Peter 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.
1 Peter 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
These children suffered and died for the sake of Christ and the joy of it is that when the glory of Christ will be revealed they will be glad in exceeding joy as partakers. We count it joy to suffer prosecution for the sake of Christ but not to suffer as a murderer, a Theif or as a busybody in another man’s business. The suffering which brings us to Christ glory must be one which we pass through so as to please Him and not otherwise, so if you go and steal and you are caught and locked up in jail, you can’t say you have suffered for the sake of Christ but for your own selfish desires.
Psalms 124:1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say;
Psalms 124:2 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
Psalms 124:3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:
Psalms 124:7 Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
Psalms 124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
This particular psalm made me to wonder, if the Lord had not intervain by sending His angels to inform Joseph of the route of escape, what would have been the fate of the infant Jesus, probably He would be killed along side other infants. Friends, safety is of the Lord alone, put your trust in Him and lean not on your own understanding. The world today is full of all sorts of prosecution and cruelty but the Lord will watch over His own. Many are the affliction of the righteous but our God will deliver us from all of them. Also as a Christian, always understand the move of God at every point in time, they are some certain circumstances when the Spirit of God will inform you to run for your life, please run, forget your anointing and run. Joseph in portifers house has to run, St. Paul was lowed in a basket just to escape death and so on.
Finally, it is believed today that these innocent children that were murdered by Herod are the First Christian martyrs. They are regarded as martyrs of will and not deed because they did not do anything to wallant their death. One important thing to note is that these three saints (St. Stephen, St. John and Holy Innocent) are celebrated few days after the birth of Christ to show their role in the protection, revelation and suffering for which Christ has came to portray.
Almighty God, we pray this day in remembrance of those Children who suffered death for the sake of your holy Son Jesus Christ, grant that when He shall come again in glory, they will rejoice in your marvelous redemption. King of glory, save us from the cruelty and wickedness of this age, grant us the Spirit of long suffering for the sake of the gospel, help us to watch over the young ones committed to our care that through love and patience, we will behold them grow in wisdom, in stature, in favour with God and with Man through the help of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.