Thursday, January 06, 2011
The Gift of the Magi
As a child sitting in church, hearing sermons from time to time about how we were not to blame the Jews for the death of Jesus, that "the Jews did not kill Jesus", I remember thinking, "What kind of bone head would think that?" I never understood why it was even a topic for discussion.
What I had gleaned from our daily Bible studies and catechism lessons was that Jesus and his friends and everyone to whom he was talking were Jewish. Everyone. These Jewish people were the beloved characters of the Bible, the saints to whom we look for guidance and the Son of God Himself.
This comes to mind to me always on the Feast of the Epiphany. I identify with the Wise Men from the East. Like them, we gentiles were late to the party.
Everyone who came to Jesus' birthday party had a role. The shepherds let us know that He came for the very lowest among us and that their gifts are accepted. The stable also represents human life at its most basic. The angels announce that He came from Heaven.
And the Wise Men, the sages from the East, the Three Kings as we call them, show up late, cause havoc and slide out of town by a different route. That's us. The gentiles, trying to get to the party, but having trouble finding the address.
A gaggle of out of towners bearing symbolic gifts. They follow a star but stop off to ask Herod for directions. They manage to get in to see Jesus before Herod can mobilize his troops, then the visitors realize their blunder and skeedaddle out of town. The Holy Family, previously living in peaceful obscurity, have to uproot their home and flee for their very lives.
I can identify with that. Sometimes our best intentions are met with some level of chaos.
We have no choice but to make the journey. We'll never foresee the outcome. We'll have trouble finding the way, we'll stumble into trouble and we might show up a little late.
We still saddle up the camels everyday to follow the star.