Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13
Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
Good News Reflection:
Epiphany is a celebration of the adoration of magi from the East who sought and found Christ the newborn king.
The Greek word “magi” meant oriental scientists. Also called astrologers, their worship of Jesus does not validate astrology, which assigns power over us to stars and planets; rather, it validates that Jesus was born to bring salvation to all, Gentiles as well as Jews. Their arrival at the manger demonstrates that Jesus was born for the sake of all who recognize that only God should have power over us. Jesus was born to free us from sin and all other forces that control us.
The magi also demonstrate that gift-giving is a normal part of worship. Their gift of gold honored Jesus as king. Their gift of incense honored Jesus as God. And their gift of myrrh honored the gift that Jesus would eventually give to us: his death. He was born to sacrifice his life for us. He took to the cross our sins, and then his resurrection destroyed the power of sin and the power of demons who tempt us to sin.
The gifts of the magi become gifts that we all give to Jesus: Gold represents our righteousness, which Christ’s kingship over our lives makes possible so that we become more and more saintly each day. Incense represents our prayers going up to God – prayers that involve giving God the gift of our trust. And myrrh is the gift of suffering for Christ: the sacrifices we make for the sake of his ongoing mission of transforming our world.
The word “epiphany” means a moment of discovery, a revelation that changes our lives. Did the magi have an epiphany about Jesus when they came into his presence? Did they realize that they were looking at the Savior of the world? Did they want this little baby to save them from their own sins?
We can safely assume that they never forgot about their trip to Bethlehem. Surely they kept their ears open for news about him as the years went by. Probably they heard about the King of the Jews who was crucified.
We know that they in fact became very saintly Christians; their relics still exist and have been venerated since very early times. (For more on this, see the Good News WordByte, “The Christmas Magi: What Do We Know About Them?” at: wordbytes.gnm.org/faqs-magi
What about you and me? Will we remember Jesus in some new way this year? Will our worship of him transform us? Will the power of sin be defeated by our faith in Christ when we face temptations?
Hopefully, we have been changed this Advent and Christmas Season by a new rebirth of Jesus into our lives and – through our lives – out into the world.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
What’s the gold you’re giving to Jesus? What is your incense? What is your myrrh?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
Describe an epiphany you have had during this past Advent and the Season of Christmas. How will you take this out to others so that they, too, experience Christ more completely?
Thank You, my God, for revealing Yourself to me in so many ways! You are always looking for occasions to let Yourself be seen so that my joy is complete. Praised be You, Lord! Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica