Good News for the Day, January 7, 2018
The Epiphany (Public Appearance) of the Lord (20)
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea—Herod the Great was king—unexpectedly some prominent officials arrived in Jerusalem from the East, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star when it appeared, and we have come to honor him.” Hearing this, Herod got very upset—and Jerusalem, too. Convening religious leaders and smart people, he asked them where the Messiah was going to be born. They answered, “In Bethlehem, Judea. Here is what was written by 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.” Herod then called the prominent visitors to him secretly and got from them when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem: “Go, look hard for the child. Once you have found him, bring me word, so that I can go, too, and honor him.” After this meeting with the king, they went.
Astonishingly, the star that they had seen back when it appeared, went in front of them, until it arrived, stopping over the place where the child was. They were very happy to see the star; entering the house they saw the boy with Mary his mother They knelt before him, honoring him. Then they opened the wealth they had brought, offering gifts of gold, precious incense, and myrrh ointment. Then—warned in a dream not to return to Herod—they left for their own country another way. (Matthew 2)
Celebrated so widely for centuries, the “three kings” tell a familiar rich tradition with many an adaptation. Let us not, however, see it just as history—a story “out there,” –part of a nativity scene—and forget it has been written to inspire you and me.
The Gospel says that, from a distant land, prominent—studious—strangers came to honor a Jewish baby which their culture had let them know would be a “king of the Jews”—and important to them.
These outsiders left their comfort zone to go looking for what was important to them. They sorted through books, history, sky, their own importance and their own culture. In all this they recognized signs for them to change their lives. Following these signs, hey came for advice to people who would know about such things, and followed their advice to Bethlehem. Probably surprised to find a poor family with an ordinary-looking baby, they accepted what they found, honoring Him and His mother; they then evaded the hypocrisy and military power of Herod. For you and me, The Good News is to sift the signs, leave your comfort zone, and find the majesty of poverty.