Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 8, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 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.

Reflection on the gospel reading: In ancient Christianity in the east, many of the events that we remember on their own festal days were celebrated on just one day. The nativity of the Lord, the Lord’s baptism, the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor, and the visit of the magi were all celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany.

The word Epiphany comes to us from the Greek for “shining upon,” for on this day, “God shines upon us,” “God manifests God’s glory.” Epiphany in the very ancient church of the near east was all those events where God revealed Godself in Jesus. The Nativity of the Lord where the “bird that built the nest is hatched therein” and the “old of years an hour hath not outrun.” The baptism of the Lord where a voice shatters the heavens to declare that “this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Transfiguration of the Lord where Peter, Andrew, and John see Jesus shimmering in light in a prefigurement of his resurrected body. And the visit of the magi, when the revelation of Israel’s God through Jesus to the Gentiles commenced.

With the passing of the years, this great holiday of God manifesting God’s glory through Jesus began to break apart and its elements fell into their own festal days, but the memory of how the Epiphany began illuminates what we should make this day of the coming of the magi. Epiphany is so special because it represents the commencement of the illumination of the whole human mind, Jewish and Gentile alike. As Isaiah the Prophet tells us, “Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.” We are made radiant by what we see. Our hearts throb and overflow, for upon us, our Lord shines.

May all the joy in this Feast be yours today as God reveals Godself to you in Jesus.

Spiritual reading: The Wise Men were in a sense the first missionaries. Their encounter with Christ did not keep them in Bethlehem, but made them set out anew on the paths of the world. (John Paul II)

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