by Rev. Dr. V Kurian Thomas, Valiyaparambil
Next Sunday is Christmas day, 2011. Gospel reading is from Mathew 2:1-12.
1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him. 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 In Bethlehem in Judea, they replied, for this is what the prophet has written: 6 But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel. 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him. 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." (Mathew 2:1-12)
Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who is the son of God and savior of all people. With the birth of Jesus Christ, Christianity essentially begins. Thus, Christmas also celebrates the beginning of Christianity.
One of the images of Christmas is the visit by the wise men. The gospel presents us with the story of the wise men who journeyed to Jerusalem from the East to see the baby Jesus. The story is a mystery because we still do not have a clear picture of all the facts and details of the event. From the tradition we seem to know all facts, but in reality there are a number of questions we need answers on the identity of these men and their visit.
For example, how many wise men were they? Bible doesn't tell us exactly how
many. We assume three, but what is the evidence?
Where did they come from? We don't have the answer for that either.
How long did their journey take place? There is no clear answer for that question also.
On the other hand, we can learn some other important spiritual truths from their visit:
1) Their journey was one based on FAITH.
What brought them to Jerusalem was their FAITH. In the gospel, verse 2, Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East.
It was their faith that brought them out from the comfort of their homes to make probably a dangerous journey. There was no doubt in their minds that a King has been born. The question for them was, Where is He? They had seen the star and the evidence was real for them. They had the faith that the King existed. And all they needed was to find Him. For that they were prepared to risk the long journey in order to find Him.
2) Secondly, their journey was one of WORSHIP.
The purpose of the wise men's journey was WORSHIP. They brought with them gifts of GOLD, FRANKINCENSE, and MYRRH. These gifts had many symbolisms. Gold represented wealth. It is gift for a king. Frankincense was incense for worshipping a deity. Myrrh was perfume to anoint and preserve human body. Their journey was to worship the king.
3) The wise men's journey was one that transformed them.
After they met God, they were not the same. Their encounter with the King changed them. Verse 12 reads, 'Then being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.'
After they had worshipped Jesus, they were not the same. They were transformed. They were different. They have changed.
That's what happens to us also when we walk in the presence of God. We become transformed. Things get different in the new light.
The story of the wise men then can be summed up like this: Their faith brought them to Jesus. They went to worship Jesus. And as a result of their visit, they were transformed. All in the presence of Jesus.
We can also transform our life by seeking Jesus this Christmas. It will definitely help us with our life. Things will look different. So, let's seek Christ as the wise men did.
What are we searching for? by H.G. Yuhanon Mor Meletius
This was the beginning of a new chapter in the history of humanity guided by God. God initiated the history of the world in creation hoping that it will steadily progress in the manner God wanted it to be. But human, with his greed, set the pace in a distorted direction. What God wanted was a history of humans in participation with God.
The Nativity Sermon by Saint John Chrysostom
All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead herein... on earth and man in heaven. He who is above now, for our salvation, dwells here below; and we, who were lowly, are exalted by divine mercy! Today Bethlehem resembles heaven, hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and, in place of the sun, witnessing the rising of the Sun of Justice!
Homily on Gal. 4:4-7 for the Nativity of Christ
It is so easy for us to lose sight of Christ in the frenzy that surrounds Christmas. Now we are finally here, in Church. All our preparations are complete. Let us pause now, and as we celebrate the birth of the Son of God 2000 years ago, let us think about some of the other preparations we have made.
Malankara World Christmas Supplement
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