In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel, the Magi bring gifts to the child Jesus. For ourselves, in this season of giving gifts, what present might we offer to the child Jesus? Might we make something for the newborn child? Compose a Christmas prayer? Dance in the presence of the Lord? Write a letter? Sing a song? Watch the stars at night? Marvel at a sunrise?
In my younger years, my father and I shared summer evenings listening to the baseball game on the radio. One year, for his birthday, I made card in the shape of a baseball, expressing inside my appreciation and love. He kept that card for many years. We can approach God is this way, with a childlike trust. Against an adult pessimism that we have nothing to offer, we can fashion a gift for Jesus that he will cherish forever.
The Magi followed the star,
and found Christ who is light from light.
May we too find the Lord
when our pilgrimage is ended.
—Fr. Paul Deutsch, SJ