Whom do we worship?
The magi come from the East, a place that evokes for the Jews the land of astrology and other strange sciences. They are pagans. They do not know the Sacred Scriptures of Israel, but do know the language of the stars. They are looking for the truth and set out to find it. They let themselves be guided by the mystery; they feel the need to “worship.”
Their presence creates a disturbance throughout Jerusalem. The magi have seen a new star shining that leads them to think that the king of the Jews has now been born, and they come to do him homage. This king is neither Augustus nor Herod. Where is he? That is their question.
Herod is “greatly troubled.” The news does make him happy. He is the one whom Rome has appointed “king of the Jews.” He must get rid of this newborn king: Where is this strange rival? The chief priests and the scribes are familiar with the Scriptures and know that he should be born in Bethlehem, but they are not interested in this child, nor do they set out to worship him.
This is what Jesus will encounter throughout his life: hostility and rejection from those who represent the political power; indifference and resistance on the part of religious leaders. Only those who seek the kingdom of God and his justice will welcome him.
The magi continue their long search. At times, the star that is guiding them disappears, leaving them in uncertainty. At other times, it shines forth again, and they are overjoyed. Finally, they meet the Child, and prostrating themselves, they do him homage. Afterwards, they place at his service the riches they have and the most precious treasures they possess. This Child can count on them, since they recognize him as their King and Lord.
In its apparent ingenuity, this account poses before us decisive questions: Before whom do we kneel? What is the name of the “god” we worship in the depths of our being? We call ourselves Christians, but do we spend our lives worshiping the Child of Bethlehem? Do we place at his feet our wealth and our well-being? Are we willing to listen to his call to enter into the kingdom God and his justice?
José Antonio Pagola
January 6, 2015
Epiphany of the Lord (B)
Matthew 2, 1-12