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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 6, 2013

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

January 6, Epiphany of the Lord

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13

2) Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6

Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

We much take for granted the world as we've been given it. We somehow unconsciously believe that what came before us mostly had to turn out the way it did.

But if we were to see the future, what will develop would seem anything but inevitable. When I was growing up in Fort Worth as an active, faithful Presbyterian, I could never have foreseen marrying a Catholic, embracing the Catholic faith and then editing a Catholic newspaper.

I think how much more unlikely it was that David wrote to God in Psalm 72 about a king who would come in future years, "govern your people with justice" and "rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth."

When I was 12, the Mass was celebrated in Latin. Who could have predicted that the highest form of Catholic worship would in a few years be celebrated in all languages of the world? When David was writing, he was ruler of a Middle Eastern kingdom, a practitioner of a religion shared almost solely by his countrymen.

The prophet Isaiah makes equally unlikely statements about tribute -- gold and frankincense -- coming to Jerusalem. That this tribute would be brought on the backs of camels might have seemed a possibility, but brought by learned men from the East?

Those are the predictions made in the Old Testament readings for this Sunday when we celebrate Jesus' presentation to the world, represented by the Wise Men.

The Gospel of Epiphany bears out Isaiah's words, which seemed so unlikely to be fulfilled at the time they were uttered. The kingdom David spoke of came not by way of conquest -- the fear that motivated Herod to seek to destroy this king to be born in Bethlehem -- but by way of the third gift the Wise Men brought: myrrh, a bitter, aromatic herb used in burial preparation.

The babe's dominion would come by laying down his life for those he would rule. He would spread his father's kingdom by taking dominion in our hearts.


What dreams for doing good exist in your heart, although they seem unlikely to be fulfilled but by the grace of God?


"May all kings bow before him, all nations serve him." -- Psalm 72:11


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