|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
January 7, 2018 The Epiphany of the Lord
Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12 NAB
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.
After the bustle and excitement of Christmas celebrations, the days following often produce mixed feelings. On the one hand a sigh of welcomed relaxation and the comfort of settling back into normalcy. On the other hand, a sigh of sadness as we ache from missing our loved ones, along with a moan of pain as the brutal cold and darkness depress our commute.
Although the Christmas decorations may be coming down and routine returning , the true “Spirit of Christmas” (as every Hallmark movie loves to reference), ought to remain present and illuminate our homes. The Feast of the Epiphany witnesses that the birth of Christ has ushered in a light that radiates with the strength of mid-summer rays and remains enduringly without diminishment.
The wise men travelled an arduous distance to find this light in the darkness. As we begin surfing the internet for discount airline tickets and the brief relief of a warm, sunny vacation, we can take a lesson from the magi and intentionally seek out the true and lasting “Sun” of God. Rather than merely making plans for the Caribbean, make plans to seek the Lord as well, where you can soak in the warmth of His rays of grace and love. Surf for Christ-destinations such as Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, Confession, Scripture, spiritual reading, or silent prayer. Vacations refresh us with the energy we need to keep going in our daily routine. Breaking away to soak up quality time with Christ will do the same. It will refresh our weary spirits, lighten our dark moods, and deepen our lives with purpose and personal connection.
So, wrap up and stack your red and green decor in totes, and without a doubt discard the once fragrant Christmas tree that has now dried up into a mess of needles and a worrisome fire hazard. Keep the light of Christ however. After having drawn near to Him at His birth, remain with Him. Keep close to Him. Lay your whole self before Him in homage as the magi did, and offer Him every gift and talent you possess. “Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow” (Isaiah 60:5).
Christmas celebrates the appearance of our long awaited Savior which lasts eternally not just one day. His coming should be transformative and therefore change the way we think and act, and re-prioritize our hopes and desires. The New Year doesn’t mark the end of the holidays. Rather, it marks the beginning of our new, and renewed, life in Christ. The Magi left Bethlehem filled with joy and hope. Mary left Bethlehem with Jesus in her arms close to her heart. May we leave this Christmas season in the same way.
- Spend a few minutes in prayer drawing near to Christ like Mary, Joseph, and the Magi. Surrender to Him in humility, love, and homage as they did.
- How might you keep close to Christ daily and weekly? Where might you encounter Him?
- What gifts might you offer to Jesus?
- Gold (wealth) – how well are you doing at tithing? Do you give the Lord your first 10% in thanksgiving and faith? Is there some way He is asking you to be more generous with your money or with your time and service?
- Frankincense (used in worship of God) – How can you offer Christ your worship? What might you offer to Him as a sacrifice? How can you apply your talents and abilities to advancing the Kingdom of God?
- [For example: offer patience with a family member as a sacrifice, offer your daily work as a sacrifice – especially the most tedious aspects, or offer living your faith authentically in the workplace rather than joining in un-Christian jokes, conversations, or activities.]
- Myrrh (used as ointment for burial) – How can you honor Christ’s death for you? Do you live as one saved or persist in certain sins? Consider how to live more intentionally as one freed by Christ. Meditate on the sufferings of Christ and unite your own suffering to His.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Choose one “gift” to present to Jesus for this year.
- Seek Christ this week in an intentional way. Set aside 10-15 minutes for prayer or spiritual reading, or seek Him in the sacraments.
Setting goals for the New Year – Lessons from the Magi
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2018
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