Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Little Something Extra...Epiphany

Points to Ponder from the Gospel

Let's take some time this week to imitate Mary, who treasured the great events of the Nativity and pondered them in her heart. Here are a few points for reflection:

1. The magi make an assumption. They assume that Herod knows where to find the newborn King of the Jews. This is quite logical really. The Jews had long-standing traditions about the coming of a Savior King. Some saints and theologians speculate that the magi were heirs of these traditions, which were brought east by the Jews during the Babylonian exile centuries before. In any case, the magi know that something wonderful is happening in the land of the Jews. They assume the Jews would know, too. Sadly, they do not.

2. The magi are on a mission. They are coming to pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews. The Greek word for paying homage is proskuneĊ. This is the word the New Testament uses to indicate the worship of God. The magi, these foreigners, are hurrying to bow down before a tiny Baby, to fall prostrate in submission to a Newborn, even to worship a God-Man. This is truly a remarkable journey.

3. When Herod hears what the magi have to say, he is greatly troubled and all of Jerusalem with him. News of the magi's mission has spread far and wide. The whole city is talking about these strangers and their odd message. But notice what the Jews do not do; they do not go and seek the new King. They certainly realize that the magi are speaking about the long-awaited Messiah. Herod even makes point to ask the chief priests and scribes where the Messiah was to be born. But the Jews do nothing but fret!

4.The chief priests and scribes tell Herod that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah. They quote a prophecy found in the Book of Micah, chapter 5. Bethlehem means “the house of bread” in Hebrew. And certainly, for a while anyway, Bethlehem was the house, the home, of the One Who is the Bread of Life, the One Who fulfills all the Old Testament prophecies.

5. Herod lies to the magi. He tells them to return to him with news of the Child so that he might also go and pay Him homage. That is probably the furthest thing from Herod's real intention. Herod is scared and angry. He is very attached to his status and his office, and he doesn't want some little kid vying for his position.

6. The magi follow a miraculous star to the place where the baby King rests with His mother. People have long debated what the star actually was. It could have been a comet. It may have been completely supernatural. We will probably never know, at least until we get to Heaven, and then we might not care. In any case, God uses this star, whatever it is, as a sign that points straight to Jesus. God communicates with His people in many wonderful ways.

7. The joyful magi pay homage to Jesus and present Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These gifts are symbolic: gold for a King, frankincense for God, and myrrh for the One Who is to die. The magi also offer themselves to the little King.

8. The magi do not return to Herod. God warns them in a dream that they must not go back. The magi are open to this kind of communication from God. They listen and obey.

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