Preparing for Mass on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Earlier in Advent we heard of the ministry of John the Baptist, and now we hear of his direct interaction with Jesus and his baptism of Jesus in the Jordan.

The simpler narrative of the Baptism of Jesus found in Mark is here joined with a discussion about John’s worthiness to baptise Jesus (perhaps by the time Matthew’s Gospel was written the appropriateness of the ‘lesser’ baptising the ‘greater’ was a controversial point that Matthew saw an opportunity to address.). But the central point remains the same – the acknowledgement of Jesus by the voice from heaven as Son and as well-beloved.

It is to this relationship of love and trust that we ourselves are invited by Jesus and made part of through our baptism…

And the relationship from which we, like Jesus, face our temptations and challenges…

  • What challenges do you presently face?
  • How does the love of the Lord resource you for facing those challenges?

Matthew 3:13-17

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

3.1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The Temptation of Jesus

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Acknowledgements

  • Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
  • Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Baptism of Jesus: Paolo di Giovanni, National Gallery, London.

Responding to the Mass of Epiphany

In Epiphany we celerate the coming of the wise men to Bethlehem, there to benefit from the faith of Israel and to give honour to God made flesh in the Babe of Bethlehem.

But as was widely reported, the Christian community living in Palestine – but outside of Bethlehem – has until very recently been prevented from visiting the town for Christmas services and on pilgrimage to give honour to the Christ child.

The reasons are many and varied, but the consequences are heart-breaking and profoundly sad.

After much protest, the Israeli government changed its position, but at the last minute, and amidst equivocation and confusion. Even so, at least, something was done…

Christians across the world are invited to act in solidarity with the Christians of the Holy Land who meet with privation and discrimination, even persecution.

One way in which we can do this is through the Friends of the Holy Land

The purpose of the Friends is

  • To secure a resilient and enduring community in the West Bank, Gaza, Israel and Jordan – the part of the world that Christians call the Holy Land

Their objectives are

  • To raise awareness of the challenges facing the Christians of the Holy Land
  • To encourage prayer on their behalf
  • To generate financial resources to give them a sustainable future
  • To encourage visits (pilgrimage) to the Holy Land to meet local Christians 

Learn more by following the link above, and please pray for our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, and for all peoples who make their home there.

Acknowledgements

  • Commentary: (c) 2019, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2007, Allen Morris. Wall of separation and division, nr Bethlehem, Israel/Palestine

Responding to the Mass of Epiphany

TS. Eliot’s poem, ‘Journey of the Magi’ confronts us with the unsettling experience of one of the Magi – a journey that presents its physical challenges, but also proves unsettling at the level of meaning and living.

The text of the poem is given below. Click here to hear the poet read his work.

  • What does the journey to the crib mean to you?
  • When you leave, what challenges and newness faces you?

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Acknowledgements

  • Poem and audio link taken from here.
  • Photograph. (c) 2016, Allen Morris. Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.

Preparing for Mass on the feast of Epiphany

In the first reading this Sunday we hear an extract from Isaiah, assuring Israel of the blessing and restoration that the Lord offers to her. The Lectionary text is representative of the assurance, but it is but a taster! Isaiah is much more expansive than the Lectionary allows us to hear. Read and enjoy and marvel at the generosity of the Lord.

Following the promise of God’s blessing, comes the text proclaimed by Jesus at the synagogue of Nazareth: the Blessed becomes the blessing…

And where the Master leads, we are called to follow.

Isaiah 60:1-6

59.21 “And as for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from this time forth and forevermore.”

The Future Glory of Israel

60.1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
3  And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.
4  Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
5  Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult,
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
6  A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.


7  All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.
8  Who are these that fly like a cloud,
and like doves to their windows?
9  For the coastlands shall hope for me,
the ships of Tarshish first,
to bring your children from afar,
their silver and gold with them,
for the name of the LORD your God,
and for the Holy One of Israel,
because he has made you beautiful.
10  Foreigners shall build up your walls,
and their kings shall minister to you;
for in my wrath I struck you,
but in my favour I have had mercy on you.
11  Your gates shall be open continually;
day and night they shall not be shut,
that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
with their kings led in procession.
12  For the nation and kingdom
that will not serve you shall perish;
those nations shall be utterly laid waste.
13  The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
the cypress, the plane, and the pine,
to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14  The sons of those who afflicted you
shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the LORD,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15  Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
with no one passing through,
I will make you majestic forever,
a joy from age to age.
16  You shall suck the milk of nations;
you shall nurse at the breast of kings;
and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Saviour
and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
17  Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
18  Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
devastation or destruction within your borders;
you shall call your walls Salvation,
and your gates Praise.
19  The sun shall be no more
your light by day,
nor for brightness shall the moon
give you light;
but the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20  Your sun shall no more go down,
nor your moon withdraw itself;
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of mourning shall be ended.
21  Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified.
22  The least one shall become a clan,
and the smallest one a mighty nation;
I am the LORD;
in its time I will hasten it.

The Year of the Lord’s Favour
61 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2  to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3  to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
4  They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations…

Acknowledgements

  • Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
  • Commentary: (c) 2019, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Detail of West Doors, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth..

Preparing for Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany

Typically, the text of this Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm is not only abbreviated for the Lectionary, but somewhat muted too – we lose the prayer for the crushing of the oppressor and that the Lord’s enemies might lick the dust!

The justification for such muting today? The feast of the Epiphany celebrates, among other things, the welcome of the nations, even former enemies of Israel and her God, to the community of the saved and redeemed, united under the Lordship of Israel’s God. So it is a time for rising above past enmities, resentments and jealousies.

Foreign kings come in humility and they are to be welcomed with a generous heart!

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 71(72):1-2,7-8,10-13

Psalm 72 (71)

1     Of Solomon.

      O God, give your judgment to the king,
      to a king’s son your justice,
2     that he may judge your people in justice,
      and your poor in right judgment.

3     May the mountains bring forth peace for the people,
      and the hills justice.
4     May he defend the poor of the people,
      and save the children of the needy,
      and crush the oppressor.

5     He shall endure like the sun and the moon
      through all generations.
6     He shall descend like rain on the meadow,
      like showers that water the earth.

7     In his days shall justice flourish,
      and great peace till the moon is no more.
8     He shall rule from sea to sea,
      from the River to the bounds of the earth.

9     Let the desert dwellers fall before him,
      and his enemies lick the dust.

10   The kings of Tarshish and the islands
      shall pay him tribute.
      The kings of Sheba and Seba
      shall bring him gifts.
11   Before him all kings shall fall prostrate,
      all nations shall serve him.

12   For he shall save the needy when they cry,
      the poor, and those who are helpless.
13   He will have pity on the weak and the needy,
      and save the lives of the needy.

14   From oppression and violence he redeems their souls;
      to him their blood is dear.

15   Long may he live!
      May the gold of Sheba be given him.
      They shall pray for him without ceasing,
      and bless him all the day.

16   May grain be abundant in the land,
      waving to the peaks of the mountains.
      May its fruit rustle like Lebanon;
      may the people flourish in the cities
      like grass on the earth.

17   May his name endure forever,
      his name continue like the sun.
      Every tribe shall be blest in him,
      all nations shall call him blessed.

* * *

[18] Blest be the Lord, God of Israel,
      who alone works wonders,
[19] ever blest his glorious name.
      Let his glory fill the earth.

      Amen! Amen!

Acknowledgements

  • Translation of Psalms: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
  • Commentary: (c) 2019, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2019, Allen Morris. Carved ivory. Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham.

Preparing for Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany

The second reading on Sunday’s feast celebrates the new unity between the peoples of the world – between Israel, (chosen by God in a unique and distinctive way), and all the nations of the world, (also chosen and called and integrated with Israel in Christ).

St Paul derives from God’s way of being with us, a way for us to be with each other… to seek to live with integrity ourselves, and in our families and communities… Peace on earth and goodwill to all…

Second reading: Ephesians 3:2-3,5-6

(NB the text which, below, is in bold and in ‘quote sections’ is what is set for Sunday, the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

One in Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed
3 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—

2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.

4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ,

5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Unity in the Body of Christ
4.1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

The New Life
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labour, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Walk in Love
5 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives and Husbands
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Acknowledgements

  • Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
  • Commentary: (c) 2019, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2016, Allen Morris. ‘Nativity’ by Alain Thomas, Cathedral, Nantes, France.

Preparing for Mass on the Feast of the Epiphany

As Jesus is born in Bethlehem in seeming obscurity, kings and stars stir in response to the work of God.

In the light of the Lord’s love some respond generously, and others with hate and fear…

Honoured by the good, the infant Lord is driven into exile by the bad. He will return to tackle evil face on, to absorb it and conquer it, triumpant over sin and death…

And all for us…

Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

(NB the text, in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below is what is set for Sunday, the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

2.1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6  “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Acknowledgements

  • Translation of Scriptures: English Standard Version (c) 2001-9, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
  • Commentary: (c) 2019, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2004, Allen Morris. Nativity Scene, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.