The homage the Wise Men from afar gave the Christ-child in Bethlehem reinforces the Christian belief that Jesus was more than the promised fulfillment of the Messiah for the Jews.
He was a Light for all the nations, a Savior for all peoples.
Therefore, all who follow Him must identify and remove from their hearts and minds any obstacles to accepting that truth and putting it into daily practice, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight stated.
“In the story of the Magi, learned men of science, literature and culture came from distant lands in order to honor, acknowledge and venerate the newborn King of the Jews,” the bishop noted in his Jan. 2 homily for the Solemnity of Epiphany of the Lord.
The Magi “represent the Gentile Nations,” he said, “and their honoring the newborn King of the Jews foreshadows the fact that through belief in the Son of God, all people of every race, language and culture are called to inherit the Kingdom of God, as seen on the day of Pentecost.”
It is part of the Mystery of Christmas that Christ came “not only to save the Jewish people, but all the descendants of Adam and Eve — including you and me!” the bishop stated.
Therefore, all followers of the promised Christ must remove from their hearts and minds any prejudices like the ones shown by King Herod in his deceptive treatment of the Magi.
“In what ways do our own attitudes about other people get in the way of our local Church being a welcoming community of faith, where those who are not yet of our faith may come to encounter the Light of the Nations made present in our proclamation and teaching of the word of God, in our celebrations of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and in our communal life?” Bishop McKnight asked everyone to ponder.
Preached from the pulpit of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, the bishop’s message reached a larger-than-usual audience over livestream, due to severe weather keeping people from church in some parts of the diocese.
He noted that according to Biblical accounts, the first people to welcome Jesus at His birth were shepherds, symbolizing people on the outskirts of society, as well as the Wise Men from far away.
“We notice that the Christ-child received more of a welcome from the Gentiles than He did from the leadership of His own people,” the bishop stated.
That pattern would be repeated throughout Biblical accounts of Jesus’s earthly ministry.
The Magi followed a star to Bethlehem, illustrating how God’s creation, reflected in nature, points to Him and the spiritual world.
“The Magi were in tune with the order of the universe, and they somehow perceived the birth of a child Who was destined to be great — as their gifts of gold and frankincense indicated,” the bishop said.
As the Prophet Isaiah foretold: “Nations shall walk by Your light, and kings by Your shining radiance,” (Isaiah 60:3).
“May the light of the Christ-child fill your hearts with gratitude in the Year of Grace, 2022,” Bishop McKnight proclaimed.