Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany or, in popular
parlance, the feast of the Three Kings. Our Gospel presents the following cast of characters: magi coming from the East, following a star; King Herod and his court; the religious leaders in Jerusalem; and the Holy Family in Bethlehem. Of course, the center of attention is the newborn baby Jesus. It is instructive for us to look at these characters, what motivated them, and what the results were.
King Herod had power and he was obsessed with keeping that power and control. That obsession moved him to try to manipulate the magi to return to him with information about “the new born king.” Ultimately, he killed many small children to protect his power, when the child Jesus wasn’t even a real threat to his earthly power.
The chief priests and scribes were wrapped in religious security; they also wielded power over the people. They showed no interest in the star or what the magi had to say; they never caught on that Jesus was the Messiah.
The magi, on the other hand, had open minds. Something was happening and they wanted to find out about it, even though it meant traveling great distances into foreign lands. As a result of being willing to search, they found the child Jesus, even though they were foreigners or gentiles.
What about me? Am I like Herod, obsessed with everyday life and its concerns that I miss finding Christ the many times He comes to me each day? With Herod it was power and control. Other obsessions might be with possessions or pleasure or comfort. Am I like the religious leaders, so wrapped up in “practicing” rituals and prayers that I miss Christ in other situations? Or am I like the magi, with an open mind to search for Jesus in the people and events of daily life?
I invite us to reflect this week on the characters we find in the Gospel today. How much am I like Herod? The religious leaders? The magi? How do I want to change so I can bring the light of Christ into the world more effectively? What New Year resolution can help make that happen?
I wish each of you a healthy and happy 2022 “close to the Lord,” as I like to say. Let us support each other in prayer throughout this new year, as we struggle to be more effective disciples.
Instead of a church sign this week, I begin the new year by wishing you the blessing the Lord gave to Moses for the people:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!