The Holy Innocents

28 December 2020
A fresco featuring the Virgin Mary and St Maximilian Kolbe on the dome at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents in Kellyville. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


The Feast of The Holy Innocents

Readings: John 1:5–2:2; Psalm 123(124):2–5, 7–8; Matthew 2:13–18

28 December 2020


“The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.” – Matthew 2:13

Nine months ago, we celebrated the appearance of an angel to Mary to ask her to be the Mother of the Saviour. That is rightly considered the Annunciation par excellence. However, St Joseph also experienced three of his own annunciations: once when an angel told him to take Mary as his wife (cf. Mt 1:20–21), today as he flees with his family to Egypt (Mt 2:13), and later when the Holy Family returns from Egypt (Mt 2:19–20). Mary speaks only a few words at her annunciation, but by the grace of God, they direct the course of human history and salvation. Joseph is even more economical in his speech—silent—yet his actions also direct the course of Christ’s life and our salvation.

However, this privilege of cooperating in God’s plan of salvation for the world is not limited to the famous figures of Scripture. We are also invited to participate in God’s work in our particular circumstances. God desires to break into our lives in our own annunciation moments. Are we ready to hear him? Perhaps our annunciations won’t be so dramatic, but perhaps they will be? God cannot be limited.

For St Joseph, the angelic appearances occurred when he was asleep, the most ordinary activity of our lives, but the messages were far from ordinary. So too, God mostly speaks to us in ordinary circumstances—perhaps during a moment of prayer after Mass, driving the car, reading the Bible, or washing dishes. Let us be ready to hear what God is saying to us today: to forgive a long-held grudge, to address a habitual sin, or to take steps, like St Joseph, to protect the lives of the innocent and vulnerable.

Lord Jesus, help me to be open to your voice directing my life just as St Joseph did, and grant me the grace to cooperate simply in all you wish to do through me. Amen.

Sr Anastasia Reeves OP


Sr Anastasia Reeves OP is a St Cecilia Dominican, born and raised on the South Coast of NSW. She has completed studies in engineering, teaching, philosophy and theology. Since entering religious life in 2010, Sr Anastasia has served as a high school mathematics and religion teacher in Sydney, Melbourne and the USA. She is currently assigned to the congregation’s Motherhouse in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.


With thanks to the Diocese of Wollongong who have supplied the weekly Advent and Christmas 2020 reflections from their publication, Adore – Advent & Christmas Daily Reflections 2020.


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