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Thursday 21 September |
The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
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Jesus has the last word

Holy Innocents

Public Domain

Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 12/28/22

Saving Jesus from Herod means saving the essential, the meaning, the reason why evil will never have the last word

Today’s readings can be found here. Read Fr. Epicoco’s brief reflections on the daily Mass readings, Monday through Saturday, here. For Sunday Mass reading commentary from Fr. Rytel-Andrianik, see here.

The suffering of the innocent is perhaps the issue that cries out most against God. Why does God allow evil? Why does he allow an innocent person to suffer? It would be very wrong of us to presume to be able to answer a question that runs through the heart of all history and is shouted out to heaven many times, even in biblical accounts. But to say that the answer is a mystery does not mean that the Lord leaves us completely in the dark.

In today’s Gospel story, which describes how the martyrdom of the children of Bethlehem took place, Herod seems to be able to do whatever he wants without anyone stopping him. God seems absent, but we know that he acts in Joseph’s heart so that he can save Jesus:

“…the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’” 

It would be a mistake to read this Gospel thinking that God saves Jesus at the expense of these children. Saving Jesus means saving the essential, the meaning, the reason why evil will never have the last word. Saving Jesus means that God always leaves alive a hope, a light, a way that pulls us out of the worst situations.

Even if the suffering of the innocent seems to prevail, the Gospel tells us that it can never win completely. That’s why even the death of these children is marked with hope, meaning, and light – a light which, however, certainly does not justify Herod, and does not let him win completely.


Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio,’ Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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