Pastoral Message – January 2, 2022
As each Christmas comes upon us, we’re reminded how God graciously loves and cares for all of us. May we foster our Savior’s love and spread it among our family and community, so that the love between us grows stronger each day.
In the Gospel today, we hear the story of the Magi who look at the Star of heaven. They see the handiwork of God and something that is also mysterious. This inspires them to sense that the entire universe is changed. Due to their wisdom and desire for knowledge, they set out on a journey of faith to seek the King of Israel. They put everything aside and let the Star to lead them.
We are use to believing that the Magi were three Kings from the East, and indeed they were. However, we must also realize that the Magi also represent everyone who is seeking for God. In the account of Matthew’s gospel, biblical scholars interpret that the Magi probably couldn’t find the newborn Christ by themselves because the Magi were non-Jews, and as Gentiles, their knowledge about Israel’s Messiah was limited. All they could do is come to the city of Jerusalem, and once there, they had to stop. They get this far and they can’t find what they were looking for in Jerusalem. So, the Magi asked: “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?” This is intentional. In a way, Matthew wants to emphasize and tell us that non-Christians can’t find Christ on their own. They need guidance, evidence, and witness. Therefore, the non-Christian may come and ask us: as followers of Christ, “Where is Christ in your life?” Hopefully, we are able to show them by our words and actions, who and where Christ is in our life.
Secondly, the Magi are included in the Gospel of Mathew because the Jewish community did not help other people to find Christ. They kept the Christ event for themselves because the Jewish people thought that the Messiah was just for them and not others. This was a critique that Mathew had for his community. Matthew says this is absolutely not true. When the Magi, who were Gentiles, arrived at the home of Mary and Joseph which is in Bethlehem, they bowed down and worshipped the infant Christ; the newborn King of the Jews. They gave Christ homage. The Magi were the first people to worship Christ even though they were not Jewish. This helps us understand that salvation was not only for the Jews, but for all who desire to know God and who want the blessing of eternal life that God offers to all people. Today’s first reading proclaims the news that everyone is brought to salvation in Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah says that all nations will come to Jerusalem to receive and honor the light – the Light of Jesus Christ. In the second reading, St. Paul says that the Gentiles are coheirs of the promise, members of the same body in Christ.
Thirdly, the Magi had been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, so they departed for their country by another way. As an Archbishop, Fulton Sheen commented on this passage about the Magi departing, “by another way” magnificently. He said: “of course they did (departed by another way), for no one comes to see Christ and goes back the same way he came.” When I read this quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen, I said to myself: “Wow!” It made me want to reflect and take another look at my own life! I have come to question if I have allowed my encounter with Christ to really transform me? Have my words and actions changed for the better because of my encounter with Christ? Has my attitude and outlook on life changed for the better? Sometimes I think I know Christ better than other people; but perhaps my relationship with Christ can continue to be more profound and life changing. If I really meet Christ, then I will surely continue to let Christ change and improve my life for the better and for His glory. I will allow and give Christ the permission to transform me.
As we celebrate the feast of Epiphany, let us thank God for his love for all of us. Let us take time to pray and ask ourselves: Are we a guiding Light for people who come seeking Christ? Are we sharing the good news that salvation is not just only for a certain people, but for all people who desire to seek for Him? Hopefully we are. Especially because, “no one comes to see Christ and goes back the same way he came.”