January 7, 2024
Is 60:1-6; Ps 72:1-13; Eph 3:2-6; Mt 2:1-12
There are many interesting lessons to be derived from this familiar story of the Magi visiting Jesus. They are nicely commented upon in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)
Please consider the citations below:
CCC 430; 486; 528; 724; 438; 439; 333; 530
Interestingly, the first words spoken by a human in the gospel of Matthew, ask the question, “Where can we find the king of the Jews?” The Magi are searching for the real king.
They searched long and far to meet this king. The king represented the authority of the land and in essence the authority of God. They go first to Jerusalem and meet ‘King’ Herod who interestingly isn’t really a king at all. Real Jewish kings are from the line of David. Herod was basically selected and installed by the Romans to be their functionary in the area; sort of a liaison between the Jews and the Romans …
The Magi were searching for the face of God in human representation. They definitely did not find it in Herod. Herod was cruel and ruthless in his quest for power and caused much suffering. He even had three of his own sons executed to eliminate competition for the ‘throne’. A few days ago we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the massive killing of Jewish baby boys ordered by Herod in an attempt to kill Jesus. The well intentioned Magi were later warned ‘in a dream’ to not return to Herod. Their quest for the real king left them more intuitively astute, more prepared to distinguish the real from the imposter.
When they finally encountered Jesus they immediately fell prostrate and worshipped him. Because of their diligent search and their hope for something real and genuinely good, they recognized the real King.
Their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, perhaps prepared them more than they could have previously imagined, to see in Jesus: a king, (gold); a high priest (frankincense used in a sacrificial offering); and a human person (whose body at death would be prepared with myrrh).
In contrast to Herod, Jesus does not cause suffering, but rather takes on the suffering of all humanity by taking on our condition in all our vulnerability. Jesus is a teacher, a healer, a shepherd and the model of a just and benevolent king.
The takeaway for today might be our own self-examination.
There are many influential people in our world who would love our complete allegiance (and probably our money). Perhaps they would like to make up the rules that guide our lives, just like a king. Who is our king and how did we recognize him or her among all the other imposters?
There are also some Epiphany reflection questions in the bulletin today to consider as we begin this New Year. Jesus has never left us. Especially at this time of year He invites us in for a real experience of peace amongst all the turbulence.
Bulletin Refection Questions:
Who was our King or Queen (or god?) in our 20’s?
In our 30’s?
In our 40’s?
In our 50’s?
In our 60’s?
In our 70’s?
How did we notice the LIGHT, the KING, during those decades of our lives? How did we ‘go home by a different way’? How did we share this experience with others?
What gifts did we bring and lay at his manger or his feet?
How can we know if our king is building a kingdom of true justice and peace?
What does the Kingdom of God look like? How can we help build such a Kingdom starting today? Please be as specific as possible. Make this a meditation for the week.