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Fifth Sunday of Dinha

The Fifth Sunday of Epiphany

Basilica Hymn
The earth was defiled with blood
Their blood was spilled like water around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them
He sent to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and all the surrounding areas
The earth of Judah was defiled with the blood of children, but it was absolved by springs of water made holy. While Herod made the earth unclean by the murdering of children, you, O Lord, in your mercies, like the Good One, absolved the whole creation by your holy dawning. Great is your gift and your compassion, O Lord; glory to you!

The Horror 

The Basilica Hymn for this fifth Sunday of Epiphany recalls an event that occurred decades before the Baptism of our Lord, in the way someone might memorialize any terrible event in recent history: the slaughter of the innocents wrought by Herod shortly after the birth of Jesus. History has its way of imprinting itself upon our minds and imposing its meaning upon us, and this event must have left a scar upon the minds and hearts of those in the region:

The earth of Judah was defiled with the blood of children…

Blood in itself is tragic enough when it is spilled; the horror multiplies when it is the blood of a child. But while God does not force goodness into anyone’s conscience, nor ever take away his freedom, he has the power to salvage the good that is left of his creation after we have at it, overturn the darkness that human sin spills upon his world, and even bring good out of evil:

…but it was absolved by springs of water made holy.

Rebirth 

Somehow, the baptism of Christ overturned the slaughter of the innocents – and even more, as an element in the Redemption, it overturned all the evil in the world, to the ends of the earth. This is because the darkest of all evils, sin in the human heart, was conquered by Christ’s passion and death, and it is in this passion and death that we participate when we are baptized:

While Herod made the earth unclean by the murdering of children, you, O Lord, in your mercies, like the Good One, absolved the whole creation by your holy dawning. Great is your gift and your compassion, O Lord; glory to you!

The gift of baptism given to us through Christ is the source of light in humanity, the light that banishes and undoes the darkness of sin in the world.