HOMILY & IDEAS

Is 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-6; Mt 2:1-12.

Turning Over Stones

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas are underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots.

Many of the commentaries on Epiphany Sunday speak of the purpose and meaning of the visitation of the Magi; that is, the universal acceptance of the baby Jesus as the Messiah. As one commentator puts it -- Salvation comes through Jesus the Jew, the fulfillment of the prophetic dreams, but it reaches far beyond to strangers from the East, and indeed to all the nations.

To me this sounds good at first earshot; but it really is not until I reflect on the first few centuries of the early church and the events that follow the legalization of Christianity in Rome by the Emperor Constantine that I can really get excited about concrete connections between the visit of the Magi and the realization of its symbolic meaning.

Instead what is laughingly known as my mind drifts to Lk 4:22,29, a few decades after the visit from the Magi, and wonders how a crowd could have wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of the mouth of Jesus and say -- Is not this the son of Joseph? And then, moments later, rise up, put Jesus out of the city, lead him to the brow of the hill with the intention of throwing him headlong.

One wants to picture Mary running out of the house with three ornate chests of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh reminding the unruly crowd of that wonderful night those many years ago when those men from the East showed up to symbolize how Jesus is the Messiah for all people. SO HANDS OFF HIM!

Why would the crowd say such things as -- Is not this the son of Joseph? when just a few decades ago Angels were flying overhead proclaiming messages like -- Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.

Does anybody see a problem here? Were the shepherds who witnessed all this put into a witness protection program by the Pharisees? Where did those angels go? Where did the Magi go? Did the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh get pinched by some midnight burglars? Did Joseph and Mary ever say anything about those 13 days in Bethlehem to their neighbors in Nazareth?

Or, is the visitation by the Magi one of those private -- I know that you know that we know that they know that our baby is the Messiah moments?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, one might simply assume that Joseph, Mary and Jesus entered ordinary time after the visit of the Magi -- and so do we. Jesus enters into about 30 years of ordinary time. We enter into 50 days of ordinary time.

Life is like that: moments of grace, epiphanies, and ordinary time. Still, we know that in this ordinary time Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. It is our prayer that the same happens to us in our ordinary times.

It may be time to put away the Christmas CDÕs, take down the Christmas tree, take down the holly and pack up the manger. However, the fact remains that Jesus, indeed, came into this world for all people. He remains in our ordinary lives.

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