A Star Rising

Scripture Reading

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.
(Matthew 2:1-12)

Scripture Study

2:1 In the days of King Herod: Herod reigned from 37 to 4 b.c. Magi: originally a designation of the Persian priestly caste, the word became used of those who were regarded as having more than human knowledge. Matthew’s magi are astrologers.

2:2 We saw his star: it was a common ancient belief that a new star appeared at the time of a ruler’s birth. Matthew also draws upon the Old Testament story of Balaam, who had prophesied that “A star shall advance from Jacob” (Nm 24:17), though there the star means not an astral phenomenon but the king himself.

2:4 Herod’s consultation with the chief priests and scribes has some similarity to a Jewish legend about the child Moses in which the “sacred scribes” warn Pharaoh about the imminent birth of one who will deliver Israel from Egypt and the king makes plans to destroy him.

2:11 Cf. Ps 72:10, 15; Is 60:6. These Old Testament texts led to the interpretation of the magi as kings.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel tells of the Magi, Kings, astrologers seeking out a foreign king who somehow belongs to them. We’re actually coming close to the heart of the Biblical revelation. Of all the nations of the world, God chose Israel to be especially his own, a priestly people, a holy nation. But the reason for this choice was not to glorify Israel over and against the other nations; rather, it was to make of Israel a beacon to the world, so that through Israel all might be gathered.

Yes, a king would be born for the Jews, but he wouldn’t be for the Jews alone. This Messiah would be the King of Kings, a light to all the nations. How wonderful that the sign of the birth of this king should be a star, something that can be clearly seen by every nation and from any nation.

And when the Magi saw it, they were willing to leave their own country behind. And once they had worshipped him, they went back to their own country, but they went back by a different route. They were changed. They would remain Babylonians, but they had become citizens of a higher country.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1338.