In a Nutshell
When I tell a story, I have a friend who prefers the “nutshell version “ first. After that she’ll listen to me ramble, but she wants to know the main point right off the bat. When reading and hearing Sunday scriptures one may often find the nutshell by looking at the responsorial psalm or the Gospel acclamation. From Psalm 72 we hear “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” The verse for the Gospel acclamation is Matthew 2:2 “We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” As a weary world, we need to see the light, to follow with our actions and our words. This is the same hope that is echoed in Isaiah 60:2 “See, darkness covers the earth, / and thick clouds cover the peoples; / but upon you the LORD shines, / and over you appears his glory.” Don’t give up, friends. You must shine!
In Matthew’s Gospel today we see two extremely different perspectives, two different reasons for searching for Jesus. In some ways, this resembles the polarization of our nation in today’s time. What one group sees as good for the nation, those with opposing views think will wreck the country. The Magi were astrologers who saw a vision in the sky and were trying to find a way to follow it and discover the new king of the Jews. Herod heard about this king, and his reaction was dark and negative. He saw the birth of such a king as a threat to his power as the Roman leader of the country and wanted the Magi to pass on to him what they knew about this Christ child. Similarly, on a more personal level, we can either feel threatened or excited by changes that may come, depending on our perspective.
In our minds, it is easy to mix up bits and pieces from Luke’s account of the shepherds coming to see Jesus in the stable and the story of the magi. Clearly, it has taken the magi time to get here, and the reading speaks of them coming to the house where the star led them. Nevertheless, they “prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures … “
How do we do this? Do we continue looking for Jesus, even if takes a while and he is not where we expect to see him? Are we paying attention to the signs showing us the way? What gifts do we have with which to pay him homage? After seeing him, the Magi were warned in a dream not to go back the way they came. But if we have seen the Christ child, how can we go back to where we were? We must continue to respond to God’s call to move forward and grow in our lives. We must seek the right and just path and turn away from the “Herods “ and inherent evils in our life.
Nutshell: Seek God. Pay homage. Amen.
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13 Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6
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