He is expiation for our sins. 

Today’s feast of the Holy Innocents pulls us up short. How could someone do such a horrific thing as to massacre all those innocent young boys? An atrocity of this magnitude exposes, in sharp relief, the sin of the one man, Herod, who initiated it. But sadly, this is not the only time that the innocent have suffered unjustly.

Even now, we see tragedy all around us. We hear about it on the news every day. Abortion, gun violence, the trafficking and abuse of children, poverty, and more—it seems as if “those [sins] of the whole world” are never going to go away (1 John 2:2).

That’s where St. John’s words from today’s first reading can help us. John reminds us that Jesus is “expiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2). By his sacrifice on the cross, Jesus has done more than just atone for our sins. He has released us from the very power of sin itself. That applies to our own personal sins but also to the sins of the whole world. John doesn’t want us to forget that Jesus can forgive and restore it all, even the heaviest, most heartbreaking, terrible things that we do to one another. None of it is a match for the redemption Jesus has won for us. This amazing truth can fill us with hope.

So of course, we weep and mourn, as Rachel did for her children (Matthew 2:18), every time we see the damage that sin inflicts on our world. But in the midst of our lamentation, our hearts can be lifted up by a sure and certain hope—the hope that Jesus, who took on flesh and came into our darkened world to redeem it, is there with us. He is holding out his hands to all of us: receiving victims into his embrace, reaching out to comfort the ones left behind, and even inviting those responsible to come and receive his mercy.

As we suffer with those who suffer, we can know that Jesus, who has forgiven and healed our sins and those of the whole world, is standing with us.

“Jesus, Redeemer, even in the face of tragedy, I place my hope in you!”

1 John 1:5-2:2
Psalm 124:2-5, 7-8
Matthew 2:13-18


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