• The Parishes of Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament
  • The Parishes of Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament
  • The Parishes of Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament
  • The Parishes of Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament
  • The Parishes of Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament
  • The Parishes of Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament
  • The Parishes of Holy Cross and Blessed Sacrament

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3:00pm to 3:45pm

Blessed Sacrament
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Matthew 2: l-l2

Isaiah 60: l-6

Ephesians 3: 2-3, 5-6

Today's Gospel, the story of the astrologers and the star of Bethlehem, is unique to Matthew's Gospel. Note that Matthew does not call them kings of "magi" but "astrologers," nor does he give their names or report where they came from - in fact, Matthew never even specifies the number of astrologers (because three gifts are reported, it has been a tradition since the fifth century to picture "three wise men"). In stripping away the romantic layers that have been added to the story, Matthew's point can be better understood.

A great many First Testament ideas and images are presented in this story. The star, for example, is reminiscent of Balaam's prophecy that "a star shall advance from Jacob" (Numbers 24: l7). Many of the details in Matthew's story about the child Jesus parallel the story of the child Moses and the Exodus.

Matthew's story also provides a preview of what is to come. First, the reaction of the various parties to the birth of Jesus augur the effects Jesus' teaching will have on those who hear it. Herod reacts with anger and hostility to the Jesus of the poor who comes to overturn the powerful and rich. The chief priests and scribes greet the news with haughty indifference toward the Jesus who comes to give new life and meaning to the rituals and laws of the scribes. But the astrologers - non-believers in the eyes of Israel - possess the humility of faith and the openness of mind and heart to seek and welcome the Jesus who will institute the Second Covenant between God and the New Israel.

Secondly, the gifts of the astrologers indicate the principal dimensions of Jesus' mission:

• Gold is a gift fitting for a king, a ruler, one with power and authority;

• ra is a gift fitting for a priest, one who offers sacrifice (frankincense was an aromatic perfume sprinkled on the animals sacrificed in the Temple);

• Myrrh is a fitting "gift" for some one who is to die (myrrh was used in ancient times for embalming the bodies of the dead before burial).

Today's first reading, from Trito-Isaiah, is a song of encouragement to the exiled Jews who are returning to Jerusalem from Babylon to rebuild their nation and their way of life. But Isaiah envisions more for the city than just its rebuilding: Jerusalem will be a light for all nations, a gathering place not only for the scattered Jews but for the entire world, where God will once again dwell in the midst of his faithful people Israel.

The letter to the Ephesians is Paul's "synthesis" on the nature of the Church. In today's second reading, Paul writes that the Church transcends national and cultural identities: in Christ, Jew and Gentile form one body and share equally in the promise of the Resurrection.


A Messiah for all nations.

In Matthew's Gospel, it is the "Gentile" astrologers who discover the newborn "King of the Jews," while the people of the covenant (Herod, the chief priests and scribes) remain oblivious to his presence in their midst. The prophet Isaiah describes the Messiah as a "light for all nations". In Christ, God is present in all of human history - God is not the exclusive property of one nation or people; no religious group holds title to the wonderful things God has done. Epiphany calls us to a new vision of the world that sees beyond walls and borders we have created and to walk by the light which has dawned for all of humankind, a light by which we are able to recognize all men and women as our brothers and sisters under the loving providence of God, the Father of all.

The search for God in our lives.

Cardinal Newman said that "to be earnest in seeking the truth is an essential requisite in finding it." The astrologers' following of the star is a journey of faith, a journey that each one of us experiences in the course of our own life. Christ's presence is not confined to Scripture and churches; he is present in everyone and everything that is good. We find the true purpose of this life in our search for God, the great Shepherd of our souls.

The 'stars' we follow.

What we read and watch and listen to in search of wealth, fame and power are the "stars" we follow. The journey of the astrologers in Matthew's Gospel puts our own "stargazing" in perspective. The astrologers set their sights on a star that leads them to God. Where will the our "stars" lead us?