Commemoration of the Faithful Departed (All Souls´Day)
16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men,[i] he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.[j] 17 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
18 ‘A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.’
19 When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20 ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ 21 Then Joseph[k] got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23 There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’
Today we are celebrating All Souls´ Day; it is the day we remember all the faithful departed. Today´s text is a perfect match of what we know of King Herod’s character, especially in his last years. He was very cruel and suspicious of everybody to the extent of murdering his own wife. We are not surprised when he ordered the killing of babies who were two years old and below. In what ways will babies under two years usurp the throne of an old king in his final days? It was sheer madness and greediness for power. This is the text we normally read on Holy Innocence Day, three days after Christmas to remember the fate of those children who were killed in an attempt by Herod to kill the Messiah. These are some of the souls that we remember today but they are many souls to remember especially those people who have been murdered in unknown circumstances. It includes the souls of our beloved ones who have gone to rest while waiting for the return of Christ. As we reflect on today´s gospel, let us pray for the love and respect for life among us.
Let Us Pray
O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.