January 4, 2015: Epiphany of the Lord
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. (Matthew 2:1-12)
Today, when a woman is expecting a child, her family and friends often throw her a baby shower. Today’s Gospel introduces us to a similar joyous gathering to celebrate Jesus’ birth. The magi wanted to visit the newborn and honor him (and his mother) with gifts. These gifts may seem odd to us today but they may have been quite practical in Jesus’ time. Gold would help provide for them monetarily for their journey to Egypt, and Frankincense and myrrh were known for their medicinal properties, again something Mary may have needed so she was well enough to travel. After all, she had just given birth in deplorable conditions. God is the great provider, both in the birth of Jesus, the Christ, who came to reconcile us to God, and in the everyday details of our lives, just like God provided for Mary and her baby.
What provisions can we be thankful for, today?
Christmas gifts have been distributed to family and friends and the holiday is coming to a close. While gifts are nice, it’s truly the meaning and heart-felt message behind the gifts that means the most. As we move into a new year, how can we be “gifts” to others who may need our love and support? Let us remind everyone that God loves them and can provide for their needs, sometimes using our hands and feet to do so.