Mt 2:1-12 The Epiphany
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When Jesus was born 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.”
I just finished reading Pope Benedict XVI’s reflections on the infancy narratives. What a breath of fresh air! They are absolutely beautiful and eloquent. After reading his thoughts, I’d like to share some of my thoughts as well.
A Star. Most people consider the star in the infancy narratives to be a symbolic gesture; that is, the fruit of theological reflection. Surprisingly enough, some early Church Fathers considered it to be so too. But later researchers have suggested otherwise. Based on numerous calculations, the famous astronomer Ferrari d’Occhieppo (1907-2007), concluded that around the year 7-6 B.C., which is now thought likely to have been when Jesus was born, there was a conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the sign of Pisces. This conjunction would have appeared as a very bright star over night skies of Bethlehem.
It’s wonderful to see how science and religion can be like two wings on a bird. They should never contradict one or the other, but rather help man to soar!
Magi from the east. That is, Magi from the “land of sunrise”.
The Son of God rose from the dead. He rose from the depths of hell. He rose from the darkness of the night. Is the sun not an image of the Son? Does it not bring light to the world? Does the sun not break the spell of man’s deep sleep?
Without the sun we could never think. Yep. After all, the sun allows photosynthesis to occur, which provides food for plants, which emits oxygen into the atmosphere, which allows man to breathe, which allows man to live, which allows man to think.
The Son of God brings light to our world. He converts a hunter into a searcher. He brings understanding to our lives. If everything I do is for a reason, then how can the Universe exist for no reason? Why can’t the earth have life for a purpose, and not just a mathematical or mechanical reason? Why can’t my life and death be for a reason other than a biological reality? Just like the sun serves so many purposes, why can’t the Son of Man serve multiple purposes as well? Like the sun, The Son of God can bring warmth, light and life to earth, if it is not manipulated by others for evil purposes.
What is it that made the Magi from the East leave their homeland? What exactly where they in search of? A star and a king. As the Holy Father states:
“There is a saying attributed in the Bible to the pagan prophet Balaam. Balaam was a historical figure, for whom there is extrabiblical confirmation…The Bible presents him as a soothsayer in the service of the king of Moab, who asks him to curse Israel. Balaam intends to do so, but God himself intervenes, causing the prophet to proclaim a blessing upon Israel instead of a curse… All the more important, then, is a prophecy ascribed to him, a non-Jew and a worshipper of other gods, and it is a prophecy that was evidently known outside of Israel: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: a star shall come forth out of Jacob and a scepter (king) shall rise out of Israel.” (Jesus of Nazareth, Infancy Narratives, pg. 91)
They were looking for was a king, a king that would bring them hope and salvation. They found Him, wrapped in swaddling clothes, in a stable, in a manger. Not only did they find a king, but they also found humility and love – the stuff that all great kings are made of.
Wise men still search for Him. Wise men still follow Him. Wise men still come to adore Him. Let’s give to the King of Kings our greatest gift: our heart, mind, soul and body. Let’s give to Him our lives.
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