Isaiah 60:1-6, Ps 72; Ephesians 3:2-3A, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
And they returned to their own country by a different way.
We are coming now to the end of another Christmas season. Hopefully, despite the pressures of Covid and all that goes with it, we have had some good moments – the kind that we associate with a ‘normal Christmas’. However, if we have given time at all to think about the true meaning of the season, today is a good day to take stock. Today I might ask myself:
- Has anything happened this year that invites me to step back from the crass commercialism that tends to hijack these days?
- Was there time for prayer, a quiet moment in front of the crib?
- Did I hear or read anything that gave me pause for thought or challenged me to think again about my life, God in my life, and how I live my faith?
- Will I respond to the stirrings of the Holy Spirit within me as I begin this journey into a new year?
The way Matthew ends the story today gets to the heart of Christmas. If we are open to the wonderful gift of Emmanuel – God with us – then the encounter with him will leave us changed in some way. Like the wise men who followed the star, we too will have to go home by a different route because understanding the manger means knowing that in some ways life can never be the same again.
Nowadays when approaching Bethlehem from Jerusalem, one will notice on the horizon, a few miles beyond the town, a hill shaped like a volcano. However, it is not a volcano, it is the Herodian, a very elaborately constructed tomb designed by Herod the Great who wanted to be buried with great pomp and ceremony in a magnificent mausoleum. His wish was granted but who comes to visit the Herodian? Who celebrates the achievements of this wealthy tyrant who struck fear into the hearts of his own people?
The newborn king, on the other hand, still draws us and we are still talking about him as we return home by a different way.