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.
Yesterday is the feast of the Epiphany. And today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the last day of the Christmas Season.
Both feast have us look forward. The gifts of the wise men celebrate the divinity of Jesus and honour his mortality, and raise the question, ‘what next?’. The feast of the Baptism gives us the first glimpse of the adult Jesus ready to begin his public ministry.
And as Christmas ends weourselves move back into the more regular rhythms of life – at least until Lent begins (Ash Wednesday is 1st March this year).
- How has Christmas touched you this year?
- What have you learnt?
- What will you do with that new knowledge/understanding?
Christmas Mysteries. Église Saint-Laurent, Paris. (C) 2017, Allen Morris