Sunday 3rd January 2021, the Feast of the Epiphany

Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12

The visit of the Magi

After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:

And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,

for out of you will come a leader

who will shepherd my people Israel.’

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward, and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.

As I ponder this Gospel today I am drawn to the Wisdom of the Wise pilgrims.

The wisdom to become a pilgrim.

The wisdom to listen to creation and respond – here it is, to notice the star and respond.

The wisdom to listen to the prophets. Listening to the tradition; to reverence the scriptures.

The wisdom to be open to love. Here they were filled with delight when they saw the star.

The wisdom to surrender to love and praise God in the world. To discover humility, here it was knowledge of the awe and wonder of God, falling to their knees and offering their gifts.

The wisdom too discern deeply. Here, this involved listening to a dream, understanding and responding by not returning to danger.

The gift of Wisdom brings life. It brought life to these wise pilgrims. They were able to return to their home countries. They were also able to bring the story of the life of Jesus to those beyond Judaism.

I ponder the gift of wisdom in my own life. Do I have the courage that pilgrims like Mary Ward had to let go, live simply and follow the star – or what gives life? To discern and respond in love and humility?

What might that look like at this time? Just as it was over two thousand years ago for the ancient pilgrims – the wisemen, and then around 400 years ago for the pilgrim, Mary Ward; there is an urgency today in the world for the Good News of Jesus to delight the hearts of so many who are afraid and suffering in the world.

‘Jesus say Amen’

Mary Ward.