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The Magi and the New Year: Reflecting on Matthew 2: 1-12

By Molly Langfels
Source: Public Domain

Scripture:

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.

Reflection:

This passage of scripture details the three Magis’ encounter with King Herod. Herod commanded them to return to him after they found Jesus so that he could also worship Jesus. After they left Herod and found Jesus, the were instructed not to return to Herod in a dream. Like every other human, they faced an opportunity to heed or ignore God’s message. They listened and returned to their country without speaking to Herod.

The Magis’ role in the story of the Nativity can be adapted to our own journeys and lives. As human beings who are born into this life with free will and the ability to choose whether or not to follow God’s Word, it is inevitable that we too will encounter temptations. I find that this passage is given to us at a time in which it is important to reflect upon ourselves and our lives. The Feast of the Magi is January 6th, six days after the New Year. During the beginning of the New Year, society calls for us to make New Year’s resolutions. I think this reading calls on us to do something similar.

While what we conclude through this reflection may not be that we need to go to the gym more often, or that we need to online shop less, it is no less important. This passage calls upon us to recognize the temptations present in our lives, to be cognizant of who and what will lead us to stray away from the path which leads to Christ. So, at the end of this Christmas season, I call upon you to take a step back and reflect on what you can do to grow closer to God in this coming year, what you need to do in order to follow His path for you. That way, one day you can feel the pure joy which the Magi felt when they finally encountered Christ in the Nativity.