14.000 Infants (the Holy Innocents) slain by Herod at Bethlehem
Commemorated on December 29
Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
On December 29, we remember the horrific slaying of 14,000 infants by Herod, performed due to his fear and jealousy of the coming Messiah.A life in Christ is a life of both martyrdom (as shown by Stephen) and submission (as shown by Mary); in other words, it is a life of humility. By fearing this humility, Herod “lamented that his power would soon be destroyed” (Kontakia of the day) and sought to destroy Christ instead.
From His very first days Jesus was rejected on earth. He was hunted down by Herod, only to be finally caught by Pilate who, together with the leaders of His own people, put the Messiah to death. The reason for such hostility to the point of murder is given by Christ Himself, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn 3:19). Jesus’ flight into Egypt is seen by the evangelist as fulfilling the prophetic words, ‘Out of Egypt have I called My Son” (Mt 2:15; Hos 11:1)…
The question put to all who celebrate Christ’s Winter Pascha concerns their own relationship to the Lord. Are we ready to receive Him, and therefore to love as He has loved us, even to the point of death? …As Christ’s beloved disciple has said, He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still….Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murdered has eternal life abiding in him, By this we know love, that Lie laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 Jn 2:9; 3:15-16)..Infants who leaped in play were slaughtered for Christ.
[Taken from, “The Winter Pascha” by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, SVS Press,]
Saint Innocent of Alaska ,Metropolitan of Moscow
While possessing all the treasures of the world, He agreed to be born in poverty, lying in a manger in a dark cave…
He willingly lived in poverty and had no place to rest His head.
The road into the Kingdom of Heaven was made by the Lord Jesus Christ, and He was the first one who travelled it… if you truly wish to follow Jesus Christ, He will show you the way into the Kingdom of Heaven and will help you along each step.
Bear all with patience in the name of Jesus Christ.
Although inner crosses present themselves as burdensome, do not despair and do not think that the Lord has abandoned you. No! He is always with you and invisibly sustains you, even when you forget Him.
We must strive to live and act as He lived and acted. For example, Jesus Christ always thanked His Heavenly Father and constantly prayed to Him.
Why did God not make the path to the Kingdom of Heaven light and pleasant? Only God knows. Who would question His divine wisdom? He saw that the narrow path is what we need! We who are below see only bits and pieces, but He, Who is above all creation, sees our lives from the standpoint of eternity.
We must bear our cross because we want to be with Christ and to participate in His glory. Do not shun your lifelong cross, but, on the contrary, thank Jesus Christ that He honored you to follow and imitate Him. Now we suffer as sons for our own salvation. O merciful Lord! How great is Thy love for us.Christ walked this path and calls us to follow Him.
A righteous person can be as happy in a shack as in a palace. When our heart is filled with the Holy Spirit, wherever we may find ourselves, there we will always feel joy, since Paradise is within us.
And so, brethren, if you wish to attain the Kingdom of Heaven, you cannot bypass the path taken by Jesus Christ. Indeed, all the prophets, the Apostles, the martyrs, the saints and countless other righteous ones walked along this path. There is no other.
Brethren, if you wish to attain the Kingdom of Heaven, follow the path which Jesus Christ took, and He, the all-merciful one, will help you every step of the way.
Saint Innocent of Alaska Metropolitan of Moscow ,The Way Into the Kingdom of Heaven