Sunday Readings: Isaiah 60.1-6, Ephesians 3.2-3, 5-6, Matthew 2.1-12
Magi from the East arrive in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We observed his star at its rising and have come to pay him homage.” – Matthew 2.1-2
Only Matthew tells the story of the wise visitors from the East. They are students of the stars, interpreters of dreams, and seekers of the new messiah. The story introduces a major theme of Matthew’s gospel: The inclusion of the Gentiles in the promises of Jesus. In the 50 years between Jesus’ death and resurrection and the Matthew writing the gospel, Gentile believers had come to outnumber Jewish Christians in the community for which he wrote. Jews and Gentiles had to tolerate and, where possible, integrate their different traditions, forms of worship, and ways of understanding Jesus. To sustain the unity of their diverse community, they had to recognize that the good news and saving grace Jesus brought was for all of them.
Life is easier with people who are like us, who think the way we think, and do things the way we do. There is no mistaking the message of the Epiphany readings: God is inclusive. Every nation on earth will adore the new child, proclaims Sunday’s responsorial psalm. Jesus is born for all of us. Peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation are our work.
Who are the people from whom you descend? What do you know about how your people first journeyed to faith in Jesus?