After Jesus had been born at Bethlehem in Judaea during the reign of King Herod, some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east. ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews?’ they asked. ‘We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. ‘At Bethlehem in Judaea,’ they told him, ‘for this is what the prophet wrote:
And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
you are by no means least among the leaders of Judah,
for out of you will come a leader
who will shepherd my people Israel.’
Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them on to Bethlehem. ‘Go and find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’ Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way.
The demythologization movement existent mainly during the first half of the 20th century has tried to divest this Sunday’s Gospel from several not so necessary “details”. At the same time it is very probable that these same “details” were the result of Matthew’s reflections on what Jesus had done and/or said when among us. Among these “details” there are these elements:
All humans, whether Jew or gentile, are in search of the transcendent.
God himself provides the means with which we can search for him: nature, other individuals or groups (sometimes even not so good ones!).
Some very important ingredients necessary for the success of the search:
the virtue of simplicity;
endurance and magnanimity or perseverance, two other virtues which must accompany the search.
While searching we have to be ready for anything, we must not be disappointed if the God we find comes from Bethlehem, or if we in fact find (1) a helpless baby (2) in a manger (3) surrounded by a simple mother and father.
In spite of this, can we recognise the discovery as king, divine and human?
Reflect on the moments when the Servant of God lived through these stages in his journey of discovering Jesus and meeting him?