Christmas is greater than a birthday celebration; it’s the manifestation of the new child king of heaven and earth. Within the early Church, the Epiphany of Christ, the manifestation of his divinity to the world, unveiled the that means of Christmas. The truth is, the twelfth Evening of Christmas, Epiphany Eve, culminated the celebration, with the biggest gatherings, feasts, and dances taking place that night time. The start of Christ was not full with out the Sensible Males, representatives of all of the nations, paying homage to the king. Our celebration, likewise, falls quick except we be part of them to find Christ and worshipping him.
Father Dwight Longenecker, in his 2017 guide, Mystery of the Magi: The Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men, presents robust proof that the Sensible Males had been from a area neighboring Judea, Nabataea. This proximity made them aware of scriptural prophecy of the Messiah and led them to observe the celebs for indicators of his coming. Nature itself pointed to the approaching of the Christ, the king who would rule not solely Judah however all of the nations. Even when Jesus’ start occurred in obscurity, the Sensible Males acknowledged the alignment of planets and stars that bore witness to the approaching of their creator. Rick Larson’s The Star of Bethlehem (DVD, 2017) offers further clues on the character of the star they adopted.
The Magi not solely search, they really discover. It’s standard to talk of looking as we speak, in a method, nonetheless, that makes the looking itself the aim. It may be enjoyable to go searching aimlessly, like a vacationer, denying that life has a transparent objective that may be found. The Sensible Males, like pilgrims, had been on the lookout for one thing specifically, and located it. God could stay hidden in some methods, whilst he makes himself current to those that seek for him. He doesn’t simply attain out and seize our consideration, not normally at the very least, however desires us to take the time to drop what we’re doing and to search for indicators of his presence. Nature can level the best way to some extent, giving proof of its Creator, though it’s Scripture that factors to the doorway of God into historical past, because the Magi wanted the affirmation of prophecy to go to Bethlehem (Mt 2:5-6). Though the star alone couldn’t lead them, it did verify the presence of Jesus, as “it got here to relaxation over the place the place the kid was” (Mt 2:9). Some students assume this resting arose from the retrograde movement of a planet, maybe together with the constellation Aries, which the Greeks related to Judah.
The Sensible Males additionally reveal the character of Christmas by modeling how we should always reply to Jesus: with pleasure, recognition, worship, and homage. Matthew’s Gospel describes the Magi’s actions: “Once they noticed the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with nice pleasure; and going into the home they noticed the kid with Mary his mom, they usually fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they supplied him items, gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Mt 2:10-11). They rejoice that they discovered the aim of their search, understanding that that they had found what mattered most. They acknowledge the king as they see the kid, having religion in his true identification, Emmanuel — God with us. They pay him homage by way of worship, not simply discovering the kid out of curiosity, however regarding him by falling down earlier than him. They give up their wealth and possessions to him, actually honoring him as their Lord and placing themselves at his service.
We have to observe the journey of the Sensible Males, with all of its actions, every Christmas. The Church offers us the celebration of the Epiphany in order that we will proceed to hunt, to search out and acknowledge Jesus with pleasure, to worship him as our Lord and king, and to offer our lives to him. The Magi problem us to search out Jesus in a brand new method, accepting him as our true mild, a hard and fast star that guides our personal pilgrimage by way of life. Jesus provides the peace that comes from discovering life’s true middle and objective, ending our restlessness and aimless distraction. Christmas items are symbols of what we discover in Jesus, the reward of his life for us, however we also needs to take into consideration giving a present again to him, just like the Sensible Males, similar to spending extra time with him in prayer, studying the Bible, giving a present to the poor, and making sacrifices for him in love.
We are able to take Christmas with no consideration — the manger, the animals, tame wanting angels — which all appear so delicate and trite. Breaking by way of the pervasive consumerism and trivialized leisure, the start of Christ ought to shock us: God has turn into man, the Creator has come into his creation, the Lord of all has made himself right into a small child. Discovering him and accepting this little one as Lord ought to flip issues the other way up: transferring us from concern concerning the outward to the inward, from ache and bitterness to peace, from nervousness and worry to pleasure. We are able to permit him to reign in us in a brand new method, for because of this he got here into the world: “For to us a toddler is born, to us a son is given; and the federal government will likely be upon his shoulder, and his identify will likely be known as ‘Great Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace’” (Is 9:6).
Christmas is a celebration of 12 days, giving us time to soak on this actuality and to increase the celebration after the preparation of Creation. The Epiphany culminates the Christmas celebration as we embrace not solely Jesus’ start, however settle for the lordship of the new child king. Christmas extends to the Epiphany and may form the brand new 12 months that begins throughout these 12 days (which we depend from the start of Christ). Christmas marks a brand new starting that grounds our plans and hopes in Christ’s kingship. Waiting for 2021, we have to affirm once more that Jesus is the true Lord of the world. For that reason, we don’t worry, no matter could come, as a result of we have now the enjoyment that Christ brings to us at Christmas.