Fr. Ruben’s Homily for Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Epiphany of the Lord
Lectionary: 20

Reading 1: Is. 60:1-6

Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13.

Reading 2: Eph. 3:2-3A, 5-6

Alleluia: Mt. 2:2

Gospel: Mt. 2:1-12

In the Gospel of Friday Jesus asks the disciples of John the Baptist a fundamental question, “What are you looking for?” This question has a very profound meaning for us today too.

In today’s Gospel we hear that three characters are looking for the newborn king of Israel. But in that search the star that guides them disappears and they are confused. They got lost and have to seek answers to their questions through King Herod, a violent man, without principles or human values, a man who does not respect anyone in order to obtain power and what he wants.

To whom do you identify with in the characters we hear in today’s readings. With the three Magi or with Herod? Let’s see the difference in each of them.

Who were the Magi and how did they know that a King of the Jews would be born? We have to travel in time, to be exact about 605years before the birth of Jesus. The Jews were deported to Babylon and among the people was a young man named Daniel, who had the gift of interpreting dreams. Here there is a parallelism with the story of Joseph the dreamer who interprets the dreams of Pharaoh in Egypt. Well Daniel interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar then:

The king placed Daniel in a high position, he made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men” (Dn. 2: 48).

It is believe that Daniel thought all the wise man about the God of Israel, and about prophesies told in the Scriptures and so on. But none can find the Son of God in their own account; we all need divine assistance, just like the Magi did. What were the Magi looking for? They were looking for the author of life, the real presence of God in human flesh. The Magi were looking for Jesus guided by a star. In fact Epiphany means manifestation; it is the manifestation of the glory of God in the person of Jesus. The Magi were looking for salvation in the newborn king; he is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. But in that search the Magi lost the star and they were confused, the do not know where to go and they decided to stop and ask for guidance. Their intention is to adore and bring gifts to the newborn king. The gifts they brought were appropriate for a King. But this King is just a baby and is so different from the rest of the kings. He is born in a manger, there is nothing fancy that surrounds his family, but he is a king.

The gifts symbolize the dimensions of Jesus‘ messiahship. Gold represents his kingly office; frankincense, his divine nature; myrrh, his human nature and suffering. These wise men represent the kingdoms of the earth, from far distances they came to worship him; we see the universality of Gods kingdom. This new king does not belong only to a particular group but his kingdom would be universal, everlasting, and eternal.

What are some qualities of the Magi:

They were able to leave their comfort zone and allowed God to guide them to find the king of kings.
They do not despair when there is no faith or apparently guidance from God. We all lose our objective in life from time to time and we ask ourselves where God is, I do not see it or feel it in my life. The Magi lost the star. They did not seat in despair, but rather, they wanted to find a solution that would lead them back to their mission.
They prostrate and humble themselves before God: that can only bring blessings. There is nothing bigger that encountering God in our own life. It is a life changing experience that brings peace, joy and salvation.
They put their gifts in the service of God: They had gold frankincense and myrrh. What are the gifts that you have and can put into action in the Church?
They have the ability to discern the hearts of people through prayer. They were wise to obey the angel’s voice and not to return to Herod. We also need to discern the intentions of people. We need to know who is for God and who is not. Only the Holy Spirit can give us this gift of discernment that potentially saved the lives of the Magi.  

      Now who was King Herod and what he was looking for?

King Herod was not a Jew; he was a Roman client who became the king of Judea. There is an important clue in the gospel we just heard about his personality, “He was trouble and all Jerusalem with him” what does this tells us? Well, Herod was a violent man; he got to power because he killed many people to get there. He is depicted as a tyrant and bloodthirsty man. A man willing to do anything evil to maintain his reign of ambition and power. It is believed that he killed many members of his own family.

“When Herod realized that he had been tricked by the Magi he was furious, and he sent and killed all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under according to the time he had learned from the Magi.

No wonder why people in Bethlehem were deeply trouble when they hear that Herod received news of a newborn king. They knew he would become violent and bloodthirsty. That was his personality and they were right.

Then what are the qualities of Herod?

He was a manipulator: he was not a reliable person, there was no absolute truth in him, he pretended to be the truth, and he was his own law.
He was a hypocrite: he called the Magi secretly, “When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”
He was violent, a man who breathed violence by the elbows. Everything he wanted was obtained by removing his rivals from the way by killing them.
He was the personification of evil.

Then, “What are you looking for? We all have desires and needs; do you find your desires and needs in accord with the Magi or with Herod?The Magi found the Epiphany of God, the manifestation of all that is good and worthy to live for. If you have the love of Christ in your heart, put your talents into practice; humble yourself before God so that he may exalt you!!!