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The Holy Innocents


December 28

Epistle  •  Apoc. 14:1-5

Lesson from the book of the Apocalypse of the Blessed Apostle John.

[The souls of these holy, innocent children follow, with the Virgins, the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. They are without spot before the throne of God.]

In those days I beheld a Lamb stood upon Mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from Heaven, as the noise of many waters and as the voice of great thunder: and the voice which I heard was as the voice of harpers, harping on their harps. And they sung as it were a new canticle before the throne, and before the four living creatures and the ancients: and no man could say the canticle, but those hundred forty-four thousand who were purchased from the earth.

These are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were purchased from among men, the first fruits to God and to the Lamb: and in their mouth there was found no lie: for they are without spot before the throne of God.

Gospel  •  Matthew 2:13-18

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Matthew.  

[The Evangelist tells us of the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents. The praise they render to God is a subject of confusion to the enemies of Jesus, for, far from attaining their object, they only served to fulfill the saying of the prophet: “Out of Egypt have I called My Son,” and that at Bethlehem would be heard the lamentations of the mothers, mourning for their children.]

At that time an Angel of the Lord appeared in sleep to Joseph, saying: Arise, and take the Child and His Mother and fly into Egypt, and be there until I shall tell thee. For it will come to pass that Herod will seek the Child and destroy Him. Who arose and took the Child and His Mother by night and retired into Egypt: and he was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which the Lord spoke by the prophet, saying: Out of Egypt have I called My Son.

Then Herod, perceiving that he was deluded by the wise men, was exceeding angry, and sending killed all the men children that were in Bethlehem and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremias the prophet, saying: A voice in Rama was heard, lamentation and great mourning: Rachel bewailing her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.