The Magi Honored Christ, As Must We
When I was first married, we worked in my wife’s family greenhouses over Christmas break. It was a pleasant time, the sun and the warmth under the glass. We were not moving poinsettias around. Mostly we were working with immature Easter Lilly plants. Liturgical preparation and writing bulletin articles are much like that. So, while I am writing about the Epiphany and the Feast of the Holy Family, the most recent feast in my mind is Our Lady of Guadalupe.
In many ways that is as it should be. There is a continuation from the covenants in the Old Testament through the birth of Christ, through the introduction of Christianity in the New World to today. God made a covenant with Abram, soon to be Abraham that all people would be saved through Abraham’s descendant. This was the message of the Magi. Somehow these foreigners, whether they were kings or learned men or both, recognized that God sent a new king into the world. The Magi accepted that this humble child was the Messiah. They worshipped this child. Were others so busy that they could not or would not see? Herod, for example, was concerned that this Messiah would challenge his earthly power.
This was the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She did not come to the Bishop. She did not come to the Spanish Conquistadors. She came to a humble lay person, a Native American, a recent convert. In the next 10 years there were an estimated 9 million converts to Catholicism in Mexico. This was the greatest evangelization effort in all of history.
The consistent message for us, the thread that ties the Feat of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Epiphany and the covenants in the Old Testament is that God wants to have a loving relationship with each and every one of us. Sometimes because this message is so simple or because we are trying to fit this message into our life rather than trying to fit our life into this message, we can miss important parts of the message.
We know that Abraham was a man of faith and lived a certain way because of his faith. What do we know about the Magi? We assume certain things because of tradition. But were there three? If so, were they named Balthazar, Gaspar (Caspar or Jaspar) and Melchior? Where were they from? We do not know the answer to any of these questions. We do know they could see the Messiah in a humble poor child. We know they listened to the voice of God through an angel rather than Herod’s request.
We have much more recorded about Juan Diego’s interaction with the Virgin at Guadalupe. This humble peasant listened and lived a saintly life. The witness of the people, the 9 million who converted, who gave up human sacrifice and many other pagan practices is another example.
God wants a loving relationship with us. All he asks of us is that we return his love with our love. Let us take the example of the Epiphany to recognize that God came for each of us, no matter our background. Let us bring God’s love into our families so that we can reflect the Holy Family in our families.
Remember the Messiah came to save each of us. He came whatever our ethnic background and even, and maybe especially if we were pagan. This child born in a stable would later tell us that he came for the lost sheep. As we enter the New Year invite the lost sheep in our own lives to a loving relationship.
Deacon Jerry Brennan