02 Jan


(A biblical reflection on THE SOLEMNITY OF THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD, Sunday, 3 January 2016)


Gospel Reading: Matthew 2:1-12 

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalms: Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,10-13; Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6 

The Scripture Text

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern My people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared, and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found Him bring me word, that I too may come and worship Him.” When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1-12 RSV)  

What could possibly possess these wise men to leave their homes and undertake a long, hard desert journey? What was so special about this ne “King of the Jews”? Almost everyone in the Ancient Near East knew that Israel was under Roman occupation, and that any “King of the Jews” would be merely a puppet of the emperor. Clearly, they believed they were onto something extraordinary.

The “magi” were a Persian priestly caste who were highly regarded as powerful astrologers and interpreters of dreams. Why would news of a powerless monarch in a faraway land be so attractive? Isn’t it possible that the Holy Spirit was moving in them, giving them a sense that this was more than an ordinary political event? Perhaps the Holy Spirit touched on a sense of longing and hope in them and compelled them to investigate.

It’s really difficult to think that when seeing Baby Jesus they simply presented their gifts and then hurried back to Persia. More likely, they asked Mary and Joseph many questions, trying to find out what all the signs meant. And more than likelyk these new parents were happy to oblige.

Imagine the evangelization that must have occurred as Mary told them about the angel’s visit and Joseph explained his dreams. Imagine them speaking of the Scriptures foretelling that, when the Messiah arrived, kings would come from distant lands bearing gold and frankincense (Isaiah 60:2,6). How these men must have thrilled to know that the longing in their heart could be fulfilled in this little child!

All of us long for a sense of meaning and purpose. All over the world, people are starving for answers, and the Holy Spirit wants to direct them to us, just as He directed the magi to Mary and Joseph. And, like these two, all we have to do is share from our heart the ways God has moved in us. The Holy Spirit will take care of the rest. As we begin a new year, let us be prepared for whoever shows up at our door!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, shine Your light in every dark corner of the world today. By Your Holy Spirit, stir hearts to seek You. Make those who know You ready to share from their hearts the Good News of Your love and mercy. Amen.

Jakarta, 31 December 2015 

A Christian Pilgrim


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