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Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 5, 2014

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service

Jan. 5, Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Cycle A. 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

This Christmas is an exciting one for our extended family. We get to welcome a newcomer to the clan. He'll be 3 months old by the time we get to meet him, since he is literally traveling from the East (his family lives in China).

Although we've seen baby Mateo in photos and on Skype, we're all anxious to meet him face to face, kiss his chubby little cheeks and shower him with presents selected carefully to fit in a suitcase for the return trip overseas.

The Magi of the Epiphany are mentioned only in Matthew's Gospel. They are popularly described as "kings" or "Wise Men" and assumed to be three (there could have been more). Most probably, they were Persian priests who studied the stars and planets as a religious practice.

By the time they arrived, they found the child and Mary in a house, albeit a very modest one -- meaning that Jesus was probably several months old and certainly not residing in a palace befitting a king.

In studying the text, I think the Magi are noteworthy for several reasons: They were seeking the "newborn king of the Jews," they came from afar to give him homage and they brought with them a few carefully selected gifts.

Although the gifts' symbolic meaning has been debated, the general consensus is that gold, a rare precious metal, signifies Jesus' kingship. Frankincense, long used in ritual worship, visually reminds adorers of their prayers and sacrifices rising up to God. Myrrh, derived from tree resin for making medicine and embalming ointment, was also referenced at Jesus' burial, reminding us that, though divine, he took on human flesh, suffered and died, all for love of us.

The solemnity of the Epiphany (the word means "revealing") certainly gives me pause.

How far away have I wandered from the Lord? Do I desire to encounter the king of kings as keenly as our family looks forward to seeing baby Mateo? Do I adore and worship him faithfully? Am I willing to give him my life in return for his gift of suffering and dying for my sake?

The Magi didn't travel hundreds of miles simply to visit a baby. They, like us, are now co-heirs and co-partners in the great promise of Christ Jesus.

Let the Christmas celebration continue.


How earnestly do you seek the Lord? What is one gift, carefully selected, that you can offer him in adoration and love?


"Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." -- Matthew 2:11


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