On the Gospel of Matthew 2:1-12
The first Sunday of the New Year presents to us a text about the travelers, known as the wise men from the east. They were gentiles, not religious people, out of the mainstream astrologers, weird, with barely little or no knowledge at all in scriptures or religious conviction, odd-looking people, dressed differently, with too many piercings, exaggerated make-up, feeling lost but followed the star and eventually found it. They were sometimes called kings although they didn’t have a royalty. They were often depicted in Christmas pageants as wearing funny hats and bathrobes, holding an 800 number promising love, riches, and happiness to the first ten callers.
Well, they just happened to walk across the stage in history but ended up in the nativity scene. Somehow they realized they didn’t belong in there. They brought strange gifts probably because they weren’t given invitation. Why would you take gold, frankincense and myrrh as gifts to a newly born? It’s like bringing a bottle of vodka instead of diapers in a hospital room. And yet, it’s not so much about what we bring and how we got to the place that matters to God. What speaks most is how we go back home safe and sound even if it’s by a different route as mentioned in the last verse of the Gospel.
It happens to us when sometimes we find ourselves serving God, far beyond reality 10 years back, when we find ourselves paying a visit to God, silently seating in the pew when we know it is more practical to do household chores, help kids with their homework, run errands and the likes.
The bible tells numerous stories about how God uses those who don’t fit to accomplish his purposes. We marvel at the wonders of his love. Often those who consider themselves as not having the gifts are the ones who actually perform the depths of Christmas. When they start to find the lost, to heal the broken hearted, to light a path, to lift a burden, a shoulder to cry on, to share the cross other people carry on their backs, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace, etc, is how God is manifested in the world. This may be a good new year’s resolution.
When we start to follow Christ in a radical way, we begin to notice that our lives are increasingly at odds with the surrounding culture since we do things contrary to what the world dictates. It could happen to a mother who told her children that they will get only three gifts on Christmas because they will give donations to the less fortunate. At other times, it could happen to anyone of us who suddenly leaves his/her well paid position because his faith would not permit him to measure the value of human life by monetary means. But finally, it doesn’t have to be a spectacular move because the little things we do have an infinite value to God. Amen.