This Evening’s Bible Reading Matthew 2:1-12
The coming of Gentile magi, the direction of the star, the gifts for the Messiah: all for the worship of the new-born king. Yet the clash between light and dark, praise and fear, foreshadow the end of the Gospel even in its beginning.
“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.” Matthew 2:11
As we kneel before the real Presence of Jesus our Lord, we rejoice that the “Epiphany” means manifestation, not only to the three magi from the East, which this lovingly prepared and beautiful nativity scene set under our High Altar depicts so stunningly, but the real and true manifestation of the Christ to the whole world – for you and me. These magi, traveling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus came for all people and all are called to adore Him, just as we adore our Lord now, present in the Holy Sacrament on the altar.
The magi, probably more than three (although they do have three gifts – a biblically symbolic number), were probably very “wise men”, perhaps those who studied the stars and were aware of the Jewish belief that the long-awaited and promised Messiah was to be born at that time and place. They understood the stars and when they saw this new and unique light in the sky, they knew something wonderful was about to transform lives and they realised that something special was happening. After their journey from the East, they meet with King Herod and with the help of Jewish scholars who interpret the scriptures, they become instruments of God’s revelation; finding the truth in Bethlehem, guided by light, to the real Presence of Jesus. Then, in thanksgiving they open their treasure chests and offer the very best back to God: gold, incense and myrrh. As always, the Creator of all things, used people on the outside of the story to highlight the truth contained within.
As we worship the real Presence of Christ now and seek his blessing upon this new year and our lives, we, like the magi, fall prostrate before the Christ child. They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration and in so doing set a perfect example for us. If these astrologers from a foreign land, outsiders to everyone else, could come and adore Christ, and in such a profound way, we too should do the same, offering our own gifts, talents and abilities to the Lord of life and love. Their three gifts, freely given, are the culmination of a journey, yet they symbolise a life yet to be lived and acknowledge this child as the Divine King, God’s very presence on earth, Emmanuel: gold for a King, frankincense for offering in prayer to God and myrrh for the embalming of a royal after their death. Their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this child is – how will we choose to honour Jesus this year 2020?
These mystical visitors with enchanting and royal gifts inspire and yet puzzle us. They are on the outside, yet by following a star find themselves at the heart of the drama of salvation. These magi recognise who Jesus is and they offer the very best of themselves in thanksgiving. So, this new year with so many challenges ahead, may we seek to follow their example. May we be steadfast, committed and faithful as we follow Jesus. May we always long to bow down in adoration and worship the One who brings salvation. May we never hesitate to acknowledge the full truth of who Jesus is, God’s promised Emmanuel, lying prostrate before Him in complete and humble submission; the real Presence who longs to feed, bless and transform us.
As the promised Messiah calls you in to his presence and light now, what gift will you offer the Lord of all life this year?