Sunday, January 8, 2012

And they “departed for their country by another way.”

"Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”- Pope Benedict XVI

(Gospel: Mt 2:1-12)
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
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."
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel."
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star's appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
"Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage."
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

Today’s Gospel is unique to Matthew who presents Jesus as both the One Who is to come and the One who has come for all. The Magi represent the “beyond” or distant lands and peoples to whom the Christ will offer His universal wisdom. These “Wise Men” also represent the former ways of thinking, wondering, and philosophizing. They come in a sign of surrender to this new “epiphany” or display of this “One God” Who is for all and is now known as the God Who does the seeking and the finding.

We would like to think of God, arrive at our own logical, reasonable concept of God. We would love to say that we have found God. If we determine Who and What God is, then we would seem to control God. God would have to act accordingly. In prostrating themselves, the Magi admit their former human arrogance and surrender to the truth that until then, they had not been satisfied with the conclusions of their personal ponderings.

In their homeland, the Magi saw a great star at its rising. Greatly impressed, they set out on their journey to follow the star to greet the newborn King at Whom they believed the star pointed. After they had traveled for a time, they could no longer see the star. They were past the point of no return, and were not sure where God was now leading them. But the Magi did not give up on God's leading; they did not quit and return back home.

Have you ever started on a journey of faith in response to the clear prompting of God? You commit yourself to the journey, burn your bridges behind you (see 1 Kgs 19:19-21), and then it seems like God's divine guidance completely vanishes. This is a pattern that many have experienced in their lives of faith. This might be a test from God, "the Tester of our Hearts" (1 Thes 2:4).

If you're in this situation, the Magi are a model for you. Persevere in trust, as they did, and believe that God will guide you in the proper time. "Walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7). "Commit to the Lord your way; trust in Him, and He will act" (Ps 37:5).

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