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All One Family
Sunday, The Epiphany of the Lord
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.
Opening Prayer: Lord, bring me spiritually into your presence as an infant so that I, along with the Magi, can give you the gift of my full attention during this time of prayer.
- Jesus Is for Everyone: The three kings came from distant pagan countries to worship Our Lord. The Catechism teaches that their homage to the King of the Jews “shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.” We can rejoice most especially on this feast day that we belong to the “full number of nations” called to bow before our infant King.
- Gold and Frankincense: The Magi bore unusual gifts for the baby King: gold to acknowledge Jesus’s royalty; and frankincense, which is used in worship, to honor his divinity. Saint Gregory the Great warns, “There are some heretics who believe Him to be God, but do not at all believe that He reigns everywhere; these offer unto Him frankincense, but refuse Him gold. There are some others who think that He is King, but deny that He is God; these offer Him gold, but refuse Him frankincense” (Saint Gregory the Great’s Tenth Homily on the Gospels). As we join the Magi in their adoration of Jesus, let’s beg the Holy Spirit to fill us with awe, reverence, and fear of the Lord, so that we can worship in truth as our King and our God.
- Mysterious Myrrh: The more somber of the three gifts the Kings brought to Jesus was myrrh, used to embalm and/or anoint dead bodies. Imagine how Mary’s heart must have broken as she accepted with humble submission this prophesy of her Son’s Passion and Death. Our Blessed Mother invites us to imitate her by making our own little sacrifices (our myrrh) when the opportunity arises during our day. “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship”( Romans 12:1).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for choosing me to be your friend and disciple. I am truly honored to be invited in to these moments with the Magi. May my entire life be a gift to you, received by and purified by my motherly intercessor, Mary.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, on this celebratory feast of Epiphany, I offer you gold–my recommitment to obey all of your royal commandments; frankincense–the aroma of my heartfelt prayers; and myrrh–every suffering large or small united to you in your sorrowful Passion.
For Further Reflection: Celebrate Epiphany by blessing your home as a family with an Epiphany House Blessing.
Maribeth Harper celebrated paying the last tuition bill for her kids’ college by writing a book to encourage moms who have college-aged young adults, And So We Pray. She blogs about parenting adult children at andsowepray.com. She is a wife of 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of six and counting.