Today we have the Small Christmas, as the old people called it, which foresees all people eventually coming to Christ. As the first reading says: “nations shall come to your light and kings to you dawning brightness”. The Lord was unknown to many nations in the past but, as Paul says, now the pagans share the same inheritance. That’s the significance of the foreign kings coming to Christ. We were once a far flung pagan land too. Lets confess any ways we fail to share Christ’s gifts with all..
This is the feast of wise people. Those like you who come every Sunday to worship God as the Magi did. Like them your reward is deep joy and wisdom, a grace and peace in Christ that will flower into glory here and hereafter. The psalm says: “make us know the shortness of our life that we may gain wisdom of heart”. That’s our main calling, to be wise in Christ, the fount of truth.
When I was in the Holy Land I was surprised to see Orthodox Christians celebrating Christmas on the sixth of January. I asked them why. They explained that the deepest message of Christmas is that represented by the kings kneeling at Christ’s feet. They represent all humanity finding salvation in Christ. As the first reading says: “as darkness covers the earth nations come to your light and kings to your dawning brightness”. That’s God’s plan, all people sharing the riches Christ. Its only partially happened as yet. This Christmas billions of every color and nation come to the crib. But many still linger outside his cradle of peace.
That’s why there’s an urgency about the message of today’s feast. The first reading envisages God’s house as a house of prayer for all people. Paul talks of the urgent mission to the pagans so that all humanity might be enlightened. As the psalm says “let all the peoples praise you”. Christ came so that all God’s children of whatever race, colour or nation should come his dawning brightness. Our tasks to help bring that about. Its a mission that must start at home. For even in Ireland now many drift back into the futile dark from which the Lord delivered us.
We can forget that we Irish were once lost to that light like the Magi before Bethlehem. We were a far-flung people lost in murky pagan practices that brought fear rather than liberation. Then Patrick brought the faith and fulfilled for us the universal salvation heralded by the Magi. What gifts we have brought to Christ since, from the early Island of Saints and Scholars to latter-day missionaries. God forbid we should throw that pearl of great price away now. Rather as we face a new year and go back to school or work amid lengthening days, let faith spring afresh in our hearts. We, like the wise men, have found Jesus. Lets live joyfully in the new year that gift we’ve received. Amid joys, suffering and challenges – bereavement, sickness, financial problems, whatever – let our wise commitment to God’s love and peace be renewed and flower like spring blossoms. Lets be faithful to the precious faith we received at baptism and be truly wise, holding that pearl of great price above even life itself. For faithfulness is the gold frankincense and myre we bring to Jesus who embraced the world back to life in the manger. By living his love, peace and good will we can bring our dark world back to life. For all else passes away and leaves us empty in soul at last but Christ is lord of life, love, truth and peace for a fuller life in this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s kings today, bringing him gifts of the heart and spreading his light to those still in darkness, let’s profess our faith.
Prayers of the Faithful
And as his wise followers let pray for what we need..
For our Holy Father and all the bishops, that steeped in the wisdom of Christ, and shunning the corrupt power of the world, they may lead all to the humble cradle of the Savior..
For civil leaders that they may know where their secular sway ends and where the spiritual freedom and rights of the people begin, may they respect and serve those rights at all times..
For young people, wise in the ways of God as well as the world, may they bring themselves and others from darkness into the Christ’s light, for their happiness in this world and forever..
For ourselves that in our homes we may be wise directors of those in our care, nurturing them in the faith as well as giving them the care, respect and love that befits the children of God..
For the sick, the aged, the lonely and all those suffering in mind or body, that their faith may raise them up, and through our love and care they may know the healing love of God..
For the dead whose faith is known to God alone that through our continuing love, remembrance and prayers they may be raised up to the eternal glory of the Blessed…
And we ask all these prayers of God, through Christ in the wisdom of the Spirit, who lives and reigns forever and ever, amen.
There’s a true story about a man going to scientific congress by train. A small man was in the carriage saying his rosary. The scientist began giving out to him, saying we believe in science now. At journey’s end the scientist said to the little man: “by the way I didn’t get your name”. My name, the little man said, is Louis Pasteur. He, of course, was one of the great scientist of modern times. Even greater, he knew where human knowledge ends and wisdom begins. The wise men were also scientists who used their study of the stars to find Christ. We pray all men will be wise enough to come to that eternal font of grace..Hail Mary