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Adoration of the Magi

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Conception Abbey, Conception, Missouri

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.”…and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11 (emphasis added)

“The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 528). The joy of the Magi upon seeing the Child is the joy of the Gospel. It is “the joy of one whose heart has received a ray of God’s light and who can now see that his hope has been realized—the joy of one who has found what he sought, and has himself been found” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, 106). The Magi find “crying in a manger, the one they have followed as he shone in the sky…in swaddling clothes, the one they have long awaited as he lay hidden among the stars” (St. Peter Chrysologus, Sermon 150).

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Matthew 2:10

At this moment in Scripture, “God gave ‘Joy to the World’–not merely to Israel, but also to the whole world: the nations, the foreigners, the Gentiles” (Scott Hahn, Joy to the World, 111). No one is excluded from God’s generous gift of salvation. The cultural elites of the day, the chief priests and King Herod, missed Christmas. God chose to reveal His Son to foreigners and lowly shepherds because of their humility to seek the truth. The proud and the haughty missed out on the greatest gift the world has ever seen.

“And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled’” Luke 14:23

God wants His house to be filled with every race and nation. He wants no one to be excluded. We are His instruments in proclaiming the Joy of the Gospel, in manifesting Jesus to the world. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit in his recent pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, lays out the game plan for the transformation of the Archdiocese into a “joyful band of missionary disciples.”

He says that families are “the very heart of our archdiocesan efforts to unleash the Gospel, because they are the first and most important setting in which evangelization takes place.” He exhorts families to “actively seek the spiritual and social renewal of their neighborhoods, schools and places of work…display[ing] a strikingly counter-cultural way of living: grounded in prayer, Sacraments and attention to Scripture; unusually gracious hospitality [and] a capacity to include those on the margins of society.”

He encourages families to: “Create a home where your family models Christ’s love, become aware of your neighbor’s needs and reach out to them with a welcoming spirit so as to share your faith.”

Just as the Holy Family welcomed the lowly shepherds and unbelieving Gentiles into their home to see Jesus, so are we to manifest Christ to the world. Pope Francis echoed this in a recent Tweet, “Go forth and reach out to all people at the margins of society! Go there and be the Church, with the strength of the Holy Spirit” (Twitter, @Pontifex, June 23, 2017). Pope Francis calls us to reach out to the broken, the disfigured, the destitute, and those imprisoned physically or emotionally.

Christian families are beacons of light in their neighborhoods. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “the family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (CCC, 1666). If your family is a school of virtue and Christian charity, people will take notice. They will see that your family is different. They will be attracted to what you have. When asked why your family is different, this is your opportunity to have an epiphany; to share the Joy of the Gospel.

Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.[1]

[1] St. John Paul II, Homily of His Holiness John Paul II for the Inauguration of His Pontificate, §5, internet: https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/1978/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19781022_inizio-pontificato.html (accessed January 6, 2018).