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Joseph himself is then summoned by an angel of

the Lord to gather his young family and flee to Egypt

because Herod, realizing that the magi had deceived

him and fearing the Child may jeopardize his reign,

orders the massacre of every boy in Bethlehem under

the age of two. He figures one of them has to be the

Christ Child.

From the darkened world of 2016, let’s be reminded

that the drama of the ages begins in Bethlehem. To this

very day, all manner of disorder, pain, or peril can best

be understood by stepping toward the manger, whose

humble inhabitants kindly bid us forward —we who are

encumbered with mad tidings, our news disheartening,

appalling, and unparalleled.

Indeed, more than 2,000 years after the birth of

Christ, the Herods of the world are still having their way.

Persecution of Christians,

for instance, “is stronger

than in the first centuries of the Church,” says Pope

Francis. From North Korea and Indonesia, through the

Middle East, Africa, and all the way to the Americas,

there are mobs, militias, assassins, and entire regimes

intent on wiping Christianity off the map. Each month,

more than 300 Christians are killed for their faith;

more than 200 Christian properties are destroyed; and

more than 700 forms of violence are committed against

Christians, such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests,

and forced marriages — this according to Open Doors

USA, a watchdog group that advocates for Christians

around the world.

More than 2,000 years after the birth of Christ, the

weak are still forced to flee their homelands. More than

60 million people are now displaced, according to the

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. That’s

four times more than merely a decade ago, a result of

land grabs, pogroms, and civil wars, most especially

affecting our non-Christian brothers and sisters in the

Middle East and Africa.

More than 2,000 years after the birth of Christ, the

innocents are still being slaughtered — but at a pace

Herod himself could never have imagined. Each day,

approximately 125,000 babies are aborted, according to

the World Health Organization. Moreover, according to

UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

More than 2,000 years after the birth of Christ, two

armies continue to square off, each with its own fac-

tions and followers. We are obligated to choose a side.

The Herods of the world still seek to slay the essence

of love. The magi still summon the courage to thwart

them. The Herods anchor

themselves to the posses-

sions and obsessions of

the material world. The

magi open their trea-

sures for the weak and

the meek.

The Herods take the

torch of their ancestor to

scorch the earth. The magi

understand the Herods may know not what they do.

The Herods are found in high places and low, every-

where that hatred is given a dwelling place. The magi

are found in all who listen to the voice of Heaven spo-

ken through Scripture and the witnesses of the saints

and martyrs.

The magi of the world know they, too, can be led

astray. They recognize the Herods of their own hearts.

They know they are susceptible to the temptations

to double back toward the monarch’s earthly palace.

But they prayerfully recall the radiant face of Mary

who stands beside the Christ Child. They know that at

Fatima and elsewhere, she attempts to checkmate the

Herods of the world through her instructions to love

through prayer and penance.

The magi of the world have felt the bitter blows.

They’ve experienced the loneliness of the outnumbered.

They know faith is not for the faint of heart; that we

may be asked to pay in blood; that the earth is not our

final resting place; that by joining the army of angels, we

arm ourselves only with love, forgiveness, and compas-

sion —weaponry that leaves us vulnerable.

This Christmas, let’s step from the shadows and

present ourselves before the Child who summons all.

As St. Faustina writes in her

Diary ,

Jesus wants “ach-

ing mankind to snuggle close to [His] merciful Heart”

so that He “may fill it with peace” (1074).

Let’s place before Him all our fears, sorrows, frustra-

tions, weaknesses, and humiliations. Let’s sit by His fire

and listen to the choir of angels sing of He who brings

peace to earth to men of good will.

For the Child who awaits us, the finest gift we bring

is ourselves.

— Felix Carroll

To be remembered at the three Christmas Day

Masses at the National Shrine of The Divine

Mercy, visi