In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approvedtranslation
Today we celebrate not only the revelation that the helpless infant in Bethlehem is the king of history but also that the birth of Jesus is good news for everyone.
Though we might find the arrival of the magi fascinating, Matthew’s first readers would have had a different reaction:These folks arriving on camel were clearly interlopers, foreigners whom good people shouldn’t welcome.
The visit of the magi challenged Matthew’s first readers and challenge us to recognize that the saving word of God, the good news, is not reserved for some, but is intended for all. Not just for “people like us” but for “them” as well. Not only for those who believe just as we do, but also for those who don’t. It’s a challenge, yes, but a comfort, too, because we realize that even the alien parts of our own selves are welcome into the presence of the one who saves.
—Fr. Martin Connell, S.J. is Professor of Education at John Carroll University, University Heights, OH, and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.
Lifegiving God, you revealed your Son to the nations
by the guidance of a star.
Lead us to your glory in heaven by the light of faith.
May we discover your grace and hope in all we accomplish
this new year of faith. All praise to you, now and always. Amen.
—The Jesuit prayer teamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!