Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
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.
What a contrast between faith and evil this Gospel shows us! We often call the three magi the three kings, which has even more meaning for this story. There are three types of kings here described, all instructing us in our obligations as Christians.
First, the newborn king is, of course, Jesus Christ the Saviour of the World! He humbles Himself to be born in obscurity and spends most of His life in obscurity. Yet, He calls us to imitate His humility and His simplicity. The Lord expects us to fulfill our daily duties, just as Jesus did in the house of Joseph and Mary. Our obedience to God's will is a mirror of Christ's.
Next, the three kings, or magi, are an example of worship. The three magi have seen the star, heard the stories, and travelled many miles to pay homage to the newborn king. When appearing before the Lord, they present gifts and prostrate themselves. We, too, are called to present to our Lord many gifts throughout our lives, not the least of which is the gift of our very self. If you have never lain prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament in a tabernacle or monstrance, you should. This practice is not reserved just for priests and religious. We should all lower ourselves to the dirt, just as we are reminded on Ash Wednesday, and pay homage to the King of Kings.
Finally, King Herod is undoubtedly evil. Herod wishes the newborn king will be killed, lies to the magi to learn of his location, and eventually orders the slaughter of the innocents.He lives a life of lies, manipulation, greed, and no honor. His instruction for the magi to return to him after visiting Jesus is a clear example of how Satan can trick us. Satan, the king and father of lies, will stop at nothing to ensure his power over us, just as King Herod was desperate for the power of his kingdom not to be taken from him. Although these events took place more than 2000 years ago, evil is obviously very rampant in our world, telling us lies about our bodies, our success, and our souls to tempt us to sin.
As Christians, we need to be aware of how evil operates in order to avoid it, but we need to be more intent on truth and life and how to imitate those. How can I steer clear of evil and direct my focus on humble worship this week?