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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Today, almost at the end of the Christmas season, our attention shifts to the Magi who arrive in Bethlehem. Most probably they were astrologers or ancient philosophers who took their cue from the natural phenomena of the heavens. Because they were wealthy enough to have camels and able to travel a long distance, they have come to be thought of as prosperous kings. Wherever they came from and whatever gifts they brought, they opened their hearts, their treasure, their very lives to this newborn Jewish child.
The Scripture readings this season speak to us about relationship—about the possibility that God could and in fact does love each one of us so powerfully and so personally. Along with God’s steadfast love, we also experience the invitation to manifest the Lord’s life and love to one another as we travel about this world . . . using our time and talents, our leadership and love to make a difference in the Lord’s name.
Simple? Perhaps. But certainly never easy, for always involved is that very real risk of relationship with those we live with and work with. Here is where the words of Pope Francis can help. Notice how frequently he invites us to show mercy, to bring understanding, to share love…especially to those who genuinely need such gifts in their lives. May God bless us all throughout 2014 as we take up this Epiphany challenge.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Holy Jesus, born anew to our world, with the Magi I bring you the gifts of my own life. Nothing fancy, nothing costly, just the time and talents the Father has lavished upon me.
In this new year, please strengthen me with your kindness and hope, mercy and love — not in the abstract, but in the daily grind of walking with my family and co-workers, neighbors and those total strangers who cross my path. Help me bring your gifts of life and peace to everyone I meet today. Amen!—The Jesuit Prayer Team Please share the Good Word with your friends!