“Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.”
The scripture readings today are rich in symbolism and lessons for us to connect to our lives but let us focus on the Gospel (MT 2: 1-12) and the first reading (Is 60: 1-6).
The prophet Isaiah tells us our “…light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; but upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory. Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.” Roughly fourteen generations before the birth of Jesus, the book of Isaiah was written prophesizing the coming of the Christ child and our response to Him.
In the second chapter of Matthew, the three wise men traveled from the East to Jerusalem to find King Herod inquiring about the newborn king of the Jews. This new king was a threat to Herod since, as ruler, he had the title, “King of the Jews.” Herod rushed to consult the priests and scribes to then learn of the prophet Micah (who lived about 150 years before Isaiah) foretelling about there being a ruler coming out of the city of Bethlehem. (Note: Bethlehem actually means “house of bread.” An interesting reference to the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. How appropriate for Jesus to be born in a city with this name!) Not wanting to raise alarm with the three kings, Herod asked them to let him know when they found the king. They continued on their journey, following the light from the star. Now, here is an important part to take note of: “being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way” (Mt2:12).
How blessed we are to have the Lord’s glory shine upon us! All of us have encountered despair and have been caught in emotional or spiritual “darkness.” So often, this is when we really turn to prayer, get on our knees, and beg God to guide us through our difficult times. It may take a while for us to see the light He provides and we may need the help of a prayerful friend to guide us as we are blinded, but the Lord consistently provides light so we can walk (BTW…it is always good to share your spiritual journey with a prayerful companion).
Like the wise men, we follow the light the Lord provides as we seek to live closer to Him. How do we see the light and discern the light is from Him? This is where prayer, the scriptures and spiritual companionship come in handy. Whenever we are presented with an important decision, it is best to take it into prayer and ask the Lord what we should do. If we find peace in one place over another, that is a good indication of the presence of God. When we have someone praying along with us about the matter and they too find peace in the same place, then the presence of God is confirmed. Remember the scripture verse from Matthew 18:20, “where two are three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
The wise men encounter Jesus and we too encounter Jesus when we seek Him and follow His light. This encounter with the living God changes and expands our hearts to welcome Love (“God is Love” – 1 John 4:8) a little more just as it changed all those drawn to Him at the stable in Bethlehem. The change might be hardly noticeable or something very dramatic. Regardless, the transformation our hearts make when encountering Him is another step on our spiritual journey to be with Him for eternity. The three wise men were told in a dream to not go back the way they came. Likewise, we can’t go back to our old selves, our old ways of thinking or our old habits after we have experienced Jesus born a new in our hearts. We must change our behavior to match the new person inside and like the wise men, go back to our lives “by another way.” So goes the little steps forward in all of our spiritual journeys.
May your encounter with the Newborn King this Christmas season cause you to embrace a new way of living which is ever closer to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
(Image: The Journey of the Three Kings by Leopold Kupelwieser)