Reading 1 Is 60:1-6
Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
Our Light has come. The Lord is our Light. Light is used in so many references and instances to represent an awakening, an epiphany. The earth is covered with darkness. Isn’t that so true especially of today’s world? When I think of darkness, I think of fear, hiding, the unknown, and sin. How often little children are scared of the dark because they think there is a “monster” hiding out under their bed or in the closet. We too are like these children. Scared. We can’t and won’t face many people, places, and opportunities in life due to fear of the unknown. The risks that aren’t taken are all the missed adventures we could have had. There is a sadness that comes with darkness. I can relate with the feeling I get when the sun sets super early in the winter compared to the life of people out in the streets until 9 pm in the summer. Darkness is gloomy, and depressing thoughts haunt us and loom in our heads.
The darkness of today’s society is not knowing this Light that is our Lord. It is the ignorance one experiences when she does not have a relationship with the Lord. This is ignorance to true unconditional love, peace, and joy that surpasses all understanding. But for those that know the Lord, we will be radiant. People will be walking by our light as God shines His glory on us. Each time we choose God, we choose light. The light will get brighter and brighter as more of us follow Him, and soon the earth will not be covered in darkness. Satan tries to use the darkness to shut out Jesus from our lives because without light, we cannot see. This causes us to stumble, sin, and lose direction. Like how one flame can start a chain reaction of lighting other flames, we need to ignite in each other that light that will keep others and ourselves out of darkness. There are those parts that recently became dark that never were or have been dark for years. We are scared to have them lit (lol lit) but it has to be all or nothing. We cannot act like Adam and Eve, naked and ashamed. Rather, we have to allow Christ to push through those dark parts and illuminate them to elevate us to shine on.
Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
Revelation. How grateful that the Mystery that is God was made known to us. He is still so mysterious to us with our finite minds, but that makes me want to know Him all the more. I yearn to understand God more and more each day to get closer to the Source of love. The Holy Spirit sometimes doesn’t get enough credit, yet it is through the Spirit that God comes to us. The Holy Spirit shows us God in ways that people before us never got to experience. We are all of the same Spirit, linking us together as God’s people. How much tension and division there is in this world and to think we could all be united. The promises of Jesus is the glue that holds us and keeps us together. How kind that God comes through His Spirit just to have a relationship with us and tell us He loves us. He wants us so badly to know His love, and I cannot think of anything more selfless. He gives, gives, and gives more. I am thinking of all the times people love for selfish reasons: for attention, for power, for control, to distract themselves from their unhappiness, and fear of loneliness. God does everything in His power to share love. We should use this Model as a way to give love, not take it.
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.
There are some great points we can get from this story. First of all, I think we can all relate to Herod’s pride. How selfish and envious of Jesus that he had to lie to the magi about going to see Jesus. Herod was so scared that he would lose his followers and their attention that he was going to harm a Baby. I am thinking of all the times I put myself before God, when I am too selfish to let Him in, trust Him, and believe His will is best- basically when I want to be numnero uno. I can’t step down from my high horse or out of my comfort zone in order to give God the reverence He deserves. Maybe it is just some more prayer time or helping a friend out when you’re extremely busy or talking to your mom on the phone instead of just texting her. It could be big or small depending on the circumstances, but I know like Herod, I do not want my world shaken up at times and have to change my ways and lifestyle. Once Jesus came, Herod knew his life would never be the same, and that should be true for us. We are not our own kings; Jesus should reign in our hearts and souls as the supreme Leader.
How crazy do the magi seem? Following a star…I don’t know, but what if there were clouds or fog? What if the star looked like another star and they got lost? That’s just the thing; our faith should seem crazy. Nothing mediocre is worth fighting for. Faith is our star as it guides us through life. No matter the fog, clouds, or darkness – meaning the trials, sickness, disease, breakups, fights, and disasters – that occur in life, faith should be a constant. Faith is where we draw our strength, and like the magi, we cannot give up no matter how lost or tired we feel and want to give up. We, too, need to be a star for all those that do not know the faith. We need to let our little lights shine. How much of a blessing it is to have a star to follow but to be a star to others that need that push in the right direction. Just think: your words and actions can either draw people to Jesus or push them away from Him. Which do you want to be? You may be the only time people hear of God all week so as Eve (Tyra Banks) sang in Life Size, “Shine bright. Shine far. Be a star.”
Not only did the magi follow the star, but they came bearing gifts. How much do we give to Jesus? Our lives can be prayers if everything we do is a gift for Him. We may offer up our schoolwork for the semester, our wins in our football season, or our praises from work to God. Time, talent, and treasure are ways to give to God. Life is God’s gift to us but what we do with our lives is our gift to Him. I am reflecting on all the time I’m asking God to give gifts and blessings to me, but when do I give to Him? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were good gifts also not just the regifted things they did not want. For me, this makes me wonder what gifts I am giving God, and if it is just spare time or “when I can,” instead of taking time away from something else to offer to God. Lastly, I just want to mention the trust the magi had in God that the star would get them to Jesus and that the message in the dream was for the best. I am always searching for control and wanting to know exactly what and why things are happening, but I need to be more like the magi and trust Him by giving up my constant want for control. When we do not trust Him, we are saying we are better and know more than God, and we can all just laugh at how vain that is. So let go, give gifts, and humbly walk with our Lord.