The Epiphany of the Lord – Year C

Posté par diaconos le 28 décembre 2021

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From the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Matthew

Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod the Great. Now, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem and asked, « Where is the King of the Jews who has just been born? We saw his star in the east and came to worship him. When King Herod heard this, he was distressed, and all Jerusalem with him. « Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and came to worship him.

When King Herod heard this, he was distressed, and all Jerusalem was with him. He called together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Christ should be born. They said to him, « In Bethlehem in Judea, for thus the prophet wrote, ‘And you, Bethlehem, the land of Judah, are not the least of the chief cities of Judah, for out of you shall come a leader who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.

Then Herod summoned the wise men in secret to tell them when the star had appeared; then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, « Go and find out exactly which is the child. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying: « Go and find out all you can about the child, and when you have found him, come and tell me, that I too may go and worship him ». And when they heard the words of the king, they departed. And behold, the star, which they had seen in the east, went before them, until it came to rest on the place where the child was.

And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with great joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, and falling at his feet, they prostrated themselves to him. They opened their chests and offered him their gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned not to return to Herod, so they returned to their country by another road. (Mt 2,1-12)

Visit of the Magi

 The child Jesus received the homage of the nations. The Magi sought, found and worshipped. Beth-Lechem, « house of bread ». Bethlehem of Judea, to distinguish this city from another of the same name that was in the tribe of Zabulon. Bethlehem, also called Ephratah, was a very small town in the tribe of Judah, two leagues south of Jerusalem. This town still bears the same name today and contains a population of three or four thousand people, most of whom are Christians.

Herode, nicknamed the Great, son of Antipater, founded the dynasty of his family, the Idumeans, by destroying the last descendants of the Hasmonean race of Maccabees. At the age of fifteen, he obtained from his father the government of Galilee (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, XIV, 9, 2).

Later on, Antony, on his arrival in Syria, raised him to the dignity of tetrarch and obtained from the Senate the title of King of the Jews (Josephus, Jewish As. XIV antiquitie ,14, 5). But it was only three years later that he was able to take possession of his kingdom. He had to reconquer it from Antigonus, son of Aristobulus.

The Magi were a priestly caste highly esteemed among the Persians and the Medes; they formed the secret council of the kings, administered religious affairs and devoted themselves to the study of nature, especially astronomy. In the Babylonian court there was an order of magi, also called wise men, on whom Daniel was established. Daniel 2:48 Later this name was given in the East to all those who were concerned with astrology, the interpretation of dreams, and the occult sciences in general.

At the time of Jesus, there were among the Greeks and Romans men who exploited the credulity of the people for glory or greed, as we see from the examples of Simon and Elima. These magi belonged to the ancient and honourable class of scholars. They came from the East, a vague expression that has given free rein to speculation about their country of origin. Given the nature of the gifts they offered the newborn child, some thought Arabia, others Persia.

 King Herod, on their arrival in Jerusalem, thought them to be men of considerable position. Tradition has even handed down their names and called them Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar! Finally, from their question: « Where is the king of the Jews? » it was concluded that they were pagans and the early Church, considering them as the first fruits of paganism brought to the feet of Jesus, celebrated their memory on the feast of Epiphany, the feast of Jesus’ appearance to the Gentiles.

Jesus made his revelations and his lights come to men in the most appropriate circumstances: to the shepherds, showing himself to them in a stable as a child lying in an i and called them Gaspar, Melchior and Balthasar! Finally, from their question: « Where is the King of the Jews? » it was concluded that they were pagans and the early Church, comangiatoia; to fishermen, by granting them miraculous peaches; to wise astronomers, by means of a star.

 This was the way it became everything to all people. Whichever way these strangers arrived at their conviction, it took on in them the characteristics of a faith that overcomes all obstacles : They found the city of Jerusalem in ignorance of the great event which had brought them there; instead of the king of the Jews whom they sought, they were brought before the tyrant who occupied his throne ; they saw the Jewish priests indifferent; they were shown an obscure village, then a shabby-looking hut, finally a stable where lay a little child, born in a family of artisans; and nothing shook their faith; they prostrated themselves, they paid homage.

Herod trembled for his authority and his throne. And since the slightest suspicion had often cost the lives of many, the fear that such a tyrant felt could well disturb those who depended on him, all Jerusalem. The chief priests were, besides the high priest, the heads of the twenty-four priests.

The scribes were the learned interpreters of the law and the Scriptures, the jurists and theologians of the day. They mostly belonged to the party of the Pharisees and most of them sat in the Sanhedrin. The suspicious Herod, fearing that the Magi would not return to him, wanted to have at least one indication to guide him in his plans.

Deacon Michel Houyoux

Links to other Christian Web sites

◊ Father Hanly   : click here to read the paper → Homily for The Epiphany of The Lord, Year C

◊ Father Albert Lakra’s Blog  : click here to read the paper →  The Epiphany of the Lord (Year C)

♥ Livestream : The Epiphany of the Lord (Year C)

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