We are still in the beautiful season of Christmas. The Christmas liturgy offers us the life of people who cooperate with God’s plan of salvation. For instance, during this season, we meditate with the life of Joseph and Mary, Elizabeth and Zachariah, John the Baptist, the Shepherds, the Angel Gabriel and Jesus. The last personages of the Christmas Season to come into the picture are the Magi.
According to the Gospel of Matthew we know that the Magi came from the east, were guided by a star, brought gifts to baby Jesus (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) and came to adore him. We do not like characters without a proper name, and so, tradition has named them Melchior, Gaspar, and Balthazar, and has agreed that they were three, probably because there were three gifts offered to Jesus.
The magi have begun their spiritual journey, moved by God’s revelation in creation, the star. However, they needed to go through the revelation of the Messiah according to sacred scriptures. So they arrived at Jerusalem and asked; where has the king of the Jews been born? The wise men of Jerusalem responded to the Magi with the prophesy of Malachi, “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah… from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel” (Matt. 2:6).
The three gifts that the Magi offered to Jesus are an indication of the knowledge they had of the Messiah. Gold is a precious metal which was offered to kings; Melchior, therefore, recognized Jesus as the King of Glory. Incense was a precious metal burned by the priests on the altars of the temple as a form of praising and worshiping God; therefore, Gaspar recognized the divinity and priestly Kingship of Jesus. Myrrh was an expensive perfume which was used to embalm bodies of important people; with this gift, Balthazar recognized Jesus as True Man at the same time announcing Jesus’ death and resurrection. No doubt, the most precious gift of the Magi to Jesus was that “They fell down and worshiped him.”
Dear brothers and sisters, the Messiah, who has been born in Bethlehem has given everything that you have and everything that you are. What are you offering to him?
Todavía estamos en el tiempo hermoso de la Navidad. Lo lindo de este tiempo es que nos ofrece unos personajes con los cuales podemos aprender muchas cosas. Por ejemplo, durante este tiempo meditamos con la vida de José y María, de Juan el Bautista, Isabel y Zacarías, los pastores, el Ángel Gabriel y por supuesto Jesús. Los últimos personajes de la Navidad que hacen su aparición en la fiesta de la Epifanía del Señor son los reyes magos.
Según el evangelio de Mateo sabemos cuatro cosas de los reyes magos; que venían de oriente, eran guiados por una estrella, le traían regalos al niño (incienso, mirra y oro), y venían con el propósito de adorarle. A nosotros no nos gustan los personajes que no tienen nombre propio, así que la tradición católica les ha dado nombre y ha acordado que eran tres, tal vez porque tres fueron los regalos, Melchor, Gaspar, y Baltazar.
Los magos han comenzado su peregrinación espiritual movidos por la revelación de Dios en la naturaleza, la estrella. Sin embargo, ellos necesitan pasar por la revelación del Mesías contenida en las sagradas escrituras. A esto se debe su paso por Jerusalén y la pregunta ¿Dónde ha nacido el rey de los judíos? Los sabios de Jerusalén le responden con la profecía de Malaquías; “Y tu Belén, tierra de Judá… pues de ti saldrá un jefe que apacentará a mi pueblo Israel.”
Los tres regalos que le ofrecieron los magos a Jesús nos indican el conocimiento que ellos tenían del mesías. El oro es un metal precioso que se ofrecía a los reyes, por lo tanto Melchor reconoce a Jesús como rey de la gloria. El incienso era ese metal precioso que quemaban los sacerdotes en el templo como forma de alabanza y adoración a Dios. Por lo tanto, Gaspar reconoce la divinidad y realeza sacerdotal de Jesús. La mirra era un perfume muy costoso que se empleaba para embalsamar los cuerpos de personajes importantes. Con este regalo, Baltazar reconoce a Jesús como verdadero hombre a la vez que anuncia su amargo cáliz de la cruz y su gloriosa resurrección. Sin duda alguna que el regalo más preciado de los magos a Jesús fue que, “Se postraron y le adoraron.”
Querido hermano en Cristo, el mesías que ha nacido en Belén te ha dado todo lo que tienes y todo lo que eres. ¿Qué le vas a ofrecer tú al Mesías?
During our Advent journey our common petition was “Lord Jesus, come into our lives, come into our souls and stay with us”. Here we are brothers and sisters celebrating Christmas, officially on Christmas Season. What a blessing to be here. What a blessing that you are here. Over 2000 years ago, in the little town of Bethlehem, a boy was born to a Virgin, Jesus the Christ. That historical event of God becoming a human being brought much joy to the world.
The Gospel of Matthew reminds us that God’s plan of salvation came to fulfillment with Jesus Christ. That is the meaning and the purpose of the genealogy of Christ- that finally with the coming of Christ, everything that was promised to our fathers in faith, the prophets and the kings, came to fulfillment. Matthew reminds us that God’s plan of salvation began with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and was concluded with Joseph, Mary’s husband. Our gathering here this evening connect us, brothers and sisters, with that very moment in which a little boy was born from a virgin and lay on a manger; The Emmanuel, God with us.
One particularity which calls my attention in the genealogy of Christ is the fact that four women are named; Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary. The first three women, Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, have some things in common. They were women from other nations and not from Israel. They were widows. They were, therefore, seen as women in disgrace or sinners according to the moral codes of that particular culture. Matthew is making two points here; First, God’s plan of salvation requires human cooperation despite the fact that we are sinners. Second, God’s plan of salvation is not only for one nation but for all nations around the world.
The last woman and the last person in Matthews’s genealogy is Mary; the one who has been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. She was chosen from the beginning, from her very conception. It was necessary that she would be without sin. Therefore, God sent the Holy Spirit upon her. The Holy Spirit filled her entire humanity with all his gifts, virtues and charisms. She was kept free from sin and temptation through the grace of the Holy Spirit for the rest of her life. She was the chosen one to bear the savior in her chaste womb. We, along with Mary, are invited to accept the message from the angel, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus”. We share in this great joy because he came not only to bring good news to the people of his time; he came to the world to bring good news to all people for all of time.
The Holy Spirit has gathered us here, brothers and sisters, to celebrate Christmas, to celebrate the Emmanuel, God with us. Today we celebrate the feast of God’s poverty, the God who emptied himself and took the form of a slave. Today we celebrate the birth of that God who came and prepared the table of the sacrifice for us, the table of the Holy Eucharist, the same table from which we enjoy this evening; the God who is hidden to arrogant and prideful people and is revealed to the poor and humble of heart. Today we celebrate the birth of the God who came to this world, not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Allow him to be born in your life, allow him to be your God and savior, allow him to be your messiah, allow him to bestow the grace of the Holy Spirit upon you, allow him to bless you and guide you. Declare yourself, with Mary, a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Do not let the flame of Christmas, the joy of Christmas, and the fulfillment of Christmas be away from you. Christ was born to you the day you accepted him, he was born to you the day you declare yourself his faithful disciple. It is impossible to keep this great joy just for us. Like the shepherds and the Magi we are all called to go out and proclaim his presence among us. Be the messenger of the Christmas’ joy, be the bearer of the Messiah and invite him to be born in the life of many.
Finally, thank you for your prayers, good wishes and Christmas greetings, thank you for coming this evening and making this celebration very special; baby Jesus, make of St. Patrick’s Church during this Christmas Season, a community of reconciliation, a community of unity, a community of peace and a community of love.
From my heart I wish you Merry Christmas!
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Rev. Johnson Lopez
Father Lopez is Pastor of Saint Patrick Catholic Church in Rochelle, IL.