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Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Mt. 2:1-12.

People who write biographies like to find in the childhood of their subject some event that symbolizes what that person ultimately became. Today's Gospel reading tells of such an event in the early life of Jesus.

A group of astrologers came from somewhere in the East in search of a new-born king. With the help of a guiding star, they made their way to the little village of Bethlehem and bowed down before the Christ child. Their presence in the Nativity story is a clear prophesy that the ministry and message of Jesus would not be confined to the Jewish nation but were intended for us too.

Jesus was born a Jew yet today He belongs to the world. People of every nation on Earth bow before Him, just as those astrologers did long ago in Bethlehem. How did a Man who spent most of His life working as a village carpenter become the leading citizen of the world? The answer is that Jesus showed Himself to be the Son of God.

The Jewish religion in which Jesus was reared believed in only one God who was creator and sustainer of the world. But they looked upon God as belonging primarily, if not exclusively, to the Jews. The scribes and Pharisees were convinced that God lived in the Temple in Jerusalem, and they were determined to keep Him there.

But Jesus taught that God could never be confined to one place. He was in the Temple, but He was also out in the open countryside, decorating the flowers and feeding the birds. He was the God Who “so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him may not die but have eternal life”.

More than anything else on the face of the Earth the human person was sacred to Jesus. He valued people above everything else. To all religions, something is sacred. To the scribes and Pharisees of the first century, the Law was sacred. Jesus was of a different mind. He respected the ancient laws of His nation, but saw them as means to an end, not an end in themselves. In His scheme of things, the purpose of the laws was to benefit the lives of people and He always applied them with that thought in mind.

Every person was sacred in His sight, rich and poor, young and old, men and women, priests and prostitutes. He became known as a 'friend of sinners' and, although His enemies intended this title to be an insult, Jesus was happy with it, for He had come precisely to call sinners to repentance.

Across the centuries people of every nation on Earth have been drawn to Jesus. They have found it easy to know and love and serve Him, because they have believed that He is the Son of God who wants them to be happy with Him in the world to come.

Matthew wrote his Gospel to convince his fellow Jews that all the prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus. Yet he was the only evangelist who records this visit of the astrologers. He did this to make the Jews realise that Jesus was not just the Messiah for the Jews but for all peoples. The gifts these foreign visitors brought were indicative of Who this Child was. Gold represented His kingship, frankincense His Godhead and myrrh that He was to be the suffering Messiah. We thank Matthew for revealing to us the truth that Jesus is our God and the God of all peoples.

Lord Jesus, You came to win all peoples for Your Father. May those who do not know You come to knowledge of You through the way we live our lives and the work of missionaries, and our prayers.

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