Discernment: Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents, those little boys two years and younger who Herod slaughtered in hopes of killing Jesus. Herod was a jealous, ambitious man, narcissistically pursuing power and control at other people’s expense. Deceptively, he asked the Magi, on their return from worshiping the new born King, to let him know where to find him so he, too, could worship him. That was not his intent. He wanted Jesus killed so that his position of power and prestige would not be in jeopardy. He would do whatever he needed to do to remove the threat!
Herod lacked discernment skills and thus, I believe, was blinded to the evil that had possessed his character. Without reflecting upon his life, without developing an honest relationship with God, without seeking truth and being truthful, without being upright, Herod is easy prey to Satan’s deceptive ways. Herod would not, without reliance upon God, avoid the evil into which Satan would lure him.
To ward off the kind of evil that prompts us to achieve selfish, ambitious ends at any cost, and to ignore God's will, we need to “grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of His power. Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics. For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens” (Eph. 6: 10-12). That is why,” St. Paul tell us, “you must take up all God’s armor, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full” (Eph 6: 13).
How, you ask? St. Paul counsels us as follows:“So stand your ground, with truth a belt round your waist, and uprightness a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace, and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One. And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God” (Ephesians 6: 10-17).