In ancient Old Testament times, a prophet declared, “I see him, though not now; I observe him, though not near: A star shall advance from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel…” (Numbers 24:17) Later, a psalmist mused to the Lord, “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place—What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4-5) Then in the fullness of time, the God who cares for man and who set the stars according to His plan, gave a Savior to the world and announced Him by a star: “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.'” (Matthew 2:2)
Archive for the ‘The Magi’ Category
Today we celebrate the Epiphany. Today the magi from the East arrive in Bethlehem. They do not come on Christmas day, but much later, months or perhaps a year later. The Holy Family has moved from the stable into a house. The magi enter the house and find the child with his mother, Mary. (This is still true today, for we will find Jesus wherever Mary is.) The magi bow down before the little one and give him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are strange gifts for an ordinary child, but they are poetically appropriate for Jesus.
Still today, gold symbolizes wealth and power. They give Jesus gold because he is a king, the newborn king of the Jews. Since ancient times, incense has been used in temples and chapels for the worship of God. Jesus should be offered incense because he is not only our great high priest but he is also God. Myrrh is a fragrant spice which people formerly used to prepare dead bodies for burial. Jesus shall be the divine and human sacrifice who will die for us.
The gospel tells us that the magi went back home by another way. Our ways should change after encountering the Christ child. He is our king. He comes not to dominate, but to liberate, yet he demands our obedience. We need to read the gospels and adopt the habits he teaches. Imagine how the world would be different if everyone did this. At first, we can be converted ourselves, but this by itself is enough to make our lives, our families, and our community noticeably better.
The baby Jesus comes to us in the least intimidating way conceivable. Do not fear the infant Jesus, like King Herod did. Do not fear his kingship over you. Let Jesus be the Lord of your life.
Hoy celebramos la Epifanía. Hoy los magos de Oriente llegan a Belén. Los magos no vienen en el día de Navidad, pero más tarde, tal vez meses o un año más tarde. La Sagrada Familia se ha movido desde el establo en una casa. Los magos entran en la casa y encontrar al niño con su madre, María. (Esto es aún cierto hoy, vamos a encontrar a Jesús donde María está.) Los magos se postran ante del pequeño y le dan regalos de oro, incienso y mirra. Estos son regalos extraños para un niño ordinario, sino les son apropiados para Jesús.
Aún hoy, el oro simboliza la riqueza y el poder. Los magos dan a Jesús oro, porque él es un rey, el rey recién nacido. Desde tiempos antiguos, el incienso se ha utilizado en los templos y capillas para la adoración de Dios. Jesús se debe ofrecer incienso, porque no es sólo nuestro gran sumo sacerdote, sino que también es Dios. Mirra es una especia aromática que la gente antiguamente utiliza para preparar los cadáveres para el entierro. Jesús será el sacrificio divino y humano que va a morir por nosotros.
El Evangelio nos dice que los magos regresaron a a su tierra por otro camino. Nuestros caminos se debe cambiar después de encontrarse con el niño Jesús. Él es nuestro rey. Él no viene a dominar sino para liberar, sin embargo, demanda nuestra obediencia. Debemos leer los evangelios y adoptar los hábitos de que enseña. Imagínese cómo el mundo sería diferente si todo el mundo lo hizo. Al principio, puede ser convertido a nosotros mismos, pero esto, por sí misma, es suficiente para hacer que nuestras vidas, nuestras familias y nuestra comunidad notablemente mejores.
El niño Jesús viene a nosotros en la forma menos intimidante concebible. No temas al niño Jesús, como el rey Herodes hizo. No tengas miedo de su reinado sobre ti. Permita que Jesús sea el Señor de tu vida.
Today the nations come to Christ, to bring Him their gifts and to worship Him. We see it in the gospel, where great, wise ones called Magi travel afar to Bethlehem of Judea. And we see it in our world today, wherever those honored to be called Christians gather in Christ’s Church throughout the world. Every Sunday is a little Epiphany where, like the Magi, all the nations come to worship the One whom all the world ought not to be able to contain.
Our responsorial psalm prayed, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” In another psalm, Psalm 87, the Lord foretells that every nation on earth would adore Him. The Lord says,
“Babylon and Egypt I will count among those who know me; Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia, these will be her children and Zion shall be called ‘Mother’ for all shall be her children.”
Today there are Christians in all of these places: in Egypt and Iraq, in the Holy Land and Africa. In fact Christians span entire continents about which the ancients never knew. There are Christians all nations who have entered the Lord’s house and found Jesus with Mary, who is the symbol of Mother Church. She is rightly called mother, for all nations are her children.
In many lands Christians suffer harsh persecution, as in China, where a red dragon like that of Revelation still seeks to destroy the Christ Child and the God-bearing mother. How fortunate we are to be able to safely gather here, to be free to practice our faith without fear, to come to Christ’s house easily and often, not in hiding or in secret, and without having to travel for months across desert expanses like the Magi.
Yet, in our ease, we can take our religion for granted. In our routine, we can be blind to how we are blessed. And in our closeness to Christ, we can overlook Him. So, from time to time, it is important for our faith to be renewed. One way we can do this is to imitate what the Magi did. At least once every year we should make a pilgrimage to Christ and stay to retreat some days with Him.
After spending precious time with Jesus in the heart of their pilgrimage the gospel says the Magi “departed for their country by another way.” Their physical journey changed (for they had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,) but their spiritual way changed as well. The Magi were believers even before they came, but after adoring Jesus and giving their gifts, they went away spiritually richer. We too would be spiritually richer if we were to give Christ some gift of our time and treasure to pilgrimage and retreat with Him.
As busy as priests are, the Church requires all of them to go on several days of retreat each year, for she knows how important this is for spiritual renewal and intimacy with Christ. Imagine what difference a pilgrimage to a shrine and a quiet, prayerful weekend on retreat center would have for you.
You must love and care for your children, so show them by your own example the importance of seeking after Christ. Give your spouse the opportunity to spend two days alone with the Lord, or take the whole family along for a trip to a holy shrine. For instance, there is a new, magnificent shire to Our Lady of Guadalupe which everyone should make it a priority to see. If you are looking for destinations or ideas, I’m more than happy to help.
In this year of our Lord, 2010, 51 weekends remain. Let us act now to prepare even just one of those many weekends for a gift-bearing journey. Pilgrimages and retreats are a gift to Christ and a gift to ourselves. Let us follow the Magi and come, let us adore Him this year, with days of pilgrimage and retreat.