Dear Parish Family,
Today’s Gospel reading could almost be comedic… if it weren’t for the tragedy involved. The magi from the east arrive and ask, in their innocence, for the newborn king of the Jews… a question that does not sit well with Herod, who was quite attached to his position of power and was not willing to give it up for any newborn king.
It is interesting to note that the Gospel also reports that “all Jerusalem [was troubled] with him.” All of Jerusalem, in this case, must surely mean the chief priests and scribes — those who held power in the capitol and in court — and those who are gathered by Herod to ascertain where Christ was born. This was not the first time in Israel’s history that the powerful among the Jews placed human authority over divine… an ordering that never works out well for them (or for anyone else).
Herod discerns through his priests and scribes from where the prophets anticipated the birth of Christ and he sends the Magi on their way, hoping to use them to locate the child.
Of course, God does not permit that to happen. The Magi’s eyes are opened to the impending danger Herod represents, and — after they deliver their gifts of gold (for a king), frankincense (for a priest and prophet), and myrrh (which anticipates Christ’s death and entombment) — they avoid Herod and return home by a different way.
Herod sought to manipulate the wise men who were seeking Our Lord, but God would not allow his deception to stand. It is wise to ask ourselves where we stand. Are we more of the wise men, diligently seeking Christ even though we don’t know where that search may take us? Or, are we more of a Herod, seeking to guaranteed our own power and authority by any means necessary?