JAN. 3. THE EPIPHANY. MATT. 2. 1-12
Updated: Aug 26
After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’
Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.
“Joy to the World” is the message of today’s reading, when the good news of the birth of the Son of God is revealed to the nations of the world (via three kings) for the first time, not by men, but by God; - who used a star to guide these first worshipers to the stable where the King of Kings; - Jesus Christ, had been born. Our “Joy” comes from being given a Divine Leader!
Immediately this new Leader rejected the values of the world! It is as if he was announcing. “a new way of living” where men no longer sought to satisfy their own desires and plans but chose, instead, to follow “God’s Way”; - a “message” that is certainly central to what we are witnessing in this Bethlehem stable, as well as in the rest of Christ’s life!
“Where is this infant King of the Jews? …. We have come to do him homage!” … guided by a star … to a stable … to the birth of a humble and unknown teenager … to find this new “Leader” laying in straw, alongside stable animals? Certainly, a very different “King” to the ones who came bearing gifts of Gold; - but after being enlightened by God “they fell on their knees and did him homage!”
We need to be grateful for this divine message of Bethlehem, where the world’s values are so strongly rejected by our true “King”, and replaced by humility, abandonment, and trust in the wisdom of almighty God; - which this King would shortly elaborate on, and bear witness to for the sake of all peoples; - “A leader who will shepherd my people!”
King Herod, on the other hand, was totally focused on the preservation of his authority and “power”, as his subsequent actions; - and the slaughter of the innocents; - would bear witness to. He wanted to preserve his “comfort”, “privileges” and “status” at all cost; - an attitude to life which remains prevalent even today where ‘our own desires” are given priority over the lessons from this Bethlehem stable; - from this “Divine Leader!”
Gospel Acclamation Matthew 2:2
We have seen his star in the East;
and have come to adore the Lord.
First reading Isaiah 60:1-6 · Above you the glory of the Lord appears
Arise, shine out, Jerusalem, for your light has come,
the glory of the Lord is rising on you,
though night still covers the earth
and darkness the peoples.
Above you the Lord now rises
and above you his glory appears.
The nations come to your light
and kings to your dawning brightness.
Lift up your eyes and look round:
all are assembling and coming towards you,
your sons from far away
and your daughters being tenderly carried.
At this sight you will grow radiant,
your heart throbbing and full;
since the riches of the sea will flow to you,
the wealth of the nations come to you;
Camels in throngs will cover you,
and dromedaries of Midian and Ephah;
everyone in Sheba will come,
bringing gold and incense
and singing the praise of the Lord.