We are now in the midst of the Christmas season. The Christmas season ends with the Baptism of the Lord, January 10th, this year of 2021. For all our Eastern Rite Catholics, may your celebration of the Epiphany be of great joy. Epiphany in the Eastern rite is a greater celebration than what we do with Christmas. The way they think of this season is that Jesus came to the Jewish people on Christmas. But of even greater importance is that Jesus comes to all people on the Epiphany.
Mathew is the only gospel that has this story of the Magi or Kings. There is so little information. For example, we are not exactly sure where they come from other than the East. Scholars are about evenly divided with some thinking they come from Persia, others from Babylon, and still others from Sheba. Sheba is mentioned in the psalms and as we study the prophecies of the Old Testament, we discover that they are usually more accurate. We do not know their names except perhaps from tradition: Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar. And so, we bless chalk and holy water to bless our homes with the numbers and letters: 20 + C + M + B + 21. As we bless our house we say, Christ, bless this house. In Latin the words would have been: Christus mansionem benedicat. Where we might get the letters C M B from the first letter of each Latin word. By the way, we are not even sure if there were only three Magi. For protection people traveled in caravans. There is a possibility that there could have been more.
People have tried to figure out just what was the star that led the Magi. We even had a Christmas star this year. In some way God provided a light for the Magi. First, when they saw the light, they realized something important was happening. Second, they were moved to follow the light. Third, they were willing to humble themselves in the presence of a baby. This is in contrast with the Jewish leaders of the day. They knew the prophecy, but they were unwilling to look for the light. When they were told about the light, they refused to follow the light. And when they realized that the light had come into the world, they did everything to extinguish the light.
This past year, many times the light of Christ was threatened. Darkness seemed to be taking over. But then we discovered the light of Christ shines through us. We can darken it, but we can also magnify the light. What happens in this world does not have to take our joy. Rather, just as the Magi, we leave our gifts with the Christ child. We can enter this year with peaceful anticipation knowing that God will work through us. Blessings on your New Year.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen