Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

The Epiphany of the Lord, Year ABC

The Epiphany of the Lord, Year ABC

 

Readings: Isa 60:1-6; Eph 3:2-3, 5-6; Mt 2:1-12.

1/ First Reading: RSV Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms. 5 Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6 A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.

2/ Second Reading: RSV Ephesians 3:2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

3/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 6 `And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'" 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; 8 and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." 9 When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; 11 and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh M. Tien, O.P.

I. THEME: Christ is the light for all nations.

 

            Facing an event, people have different reactions depending on their need and hope: some are indifferent; some even try to suppress it; and some joyfully welcome it. Facing the event of Jesus’ Incarnation, though it has been foretold and recommended that people must be prepared for it, many Jewish people weren’t prepared to welcome the Messiah. Only the shepherds and the three wise men eagerly looked for him, and they found the Messiah.

            Today readings centralize on the mystery of the Incarnation. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah forsaw the Day that God shall give His salvation as the glory for Jerusalem and the light to all nations. In the second reading, St. Paul reminded his faithful about God’s mystery of salvation. According to this plan, God chose the Israelites as His own people to prepare for the Messiah’s coming; but when the Messiah comes, he shall bring his salvation to all nations; the condition to inherit salvation is to believe in Christ, the Messiah. In the Gospel, St. Matthew reported three main reactions of people when they faced the good new of the Messiah’s coming: indifference, planning to destroy him and eagerly looking for him.

 

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Christ is the Israel’s glory and the light to all nations.

1.1/ God’s light shines upon Jerusalem: The prophet Isaiah called: “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.”

            Chapter 60 of the Book of Isaiah was written after the Babylon exile. At that time, Jerusalem was still a deserted city by war. Therefore, this passage doesn’t imply the physical Jerusalem, but the spiritual one, represented by the Israelites. The One who made Jesusalem to be risen up and lightened is God, not the Israelites. God’s light and the glory are the salvation which He promised to give to Jerusalem through prophets. The salvation mentioned here is not only limited to the liberation of the Israelites from the Babylon exile and returning to Jerusalem, but also the liberation of the Israelites from their slavery of sins through the Messiah.

            Isaiah highlighted the contrast between the light of Jerusalem and the darkness of people in this sentence: “For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.” The Jewish tradition believes they are God’s people and deserved to have salvation; all other people (the Gentiles) are sitting on the darkness of sins and not worthy to inherit God’s salvation. The darkness means three things: don’t believe in a God, don’t know salvation and don’t follow God’s way.

1.2/ People from everywhere shall come to Jerusalem: When the Messiah comes, all things shall change. The salvation is no longer limited in Israel but opened up to all nations, as Isaiah’s vision: “And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms.”

            As said above, the light of Jerusalem is God’s salvation. This light shall shine upon all nations of the earth, and all people shall come to the spiritual Jerusalem to inherit this salvation. The prophet listed out the members who shall come to Jerusalem; they are: first, the kings and leaders of the nations; second, sons and daughters. These children aren’t related to the Israelites by blood, but by their faith in God’s salvation.

            When these things happen, Jerusalem shall be full of joy as the prophet announced: “Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the LORD.” In the world at that time, prosperity was measured by flocks of animals, and carmels were regarded as the most valued animals to carry goods through deserts in Middle East nations. According to Genesis25:4, Ephah was the son of Midian, the grandson of Jokshan, the father of Sheba. Sheba today is Yemen nation. Gold and frankincense were two most expensive things at that time. We shall mention these two things in the Gospel when the three kings offered them to the Infant Jesus.

 

2/ Reading II: The Gentiles shall also be inherited salvation together with the Jews.

2.1/ God’s salvation is achieved through Christ: St. Paul wrote to the Ephesian faithful these words: “you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly.”

            St. Paul wrote this Letter to the Ephesians when he was in prison at Rome. He reminded them about the graceful plan which God has entrusted to him. This plan contained two things: his conversion on the way to Damascus and his mission to proclaming the Good News to the Gentiles. Between these two events was the time Paul went to the Arabian desert to retreat and to receive the revelation of the mystery of Christ. The reason why Paul needed this time was because he didn’t know Christ as other disciples when he still lived in this world.

 

2.2/ The Gentiles are also inherited God’s salvation: St. Paul continued: This mystery “which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

            Through these brief sentences, St. Paul let us know two main periods of the mystery of salvation: First, God chose the Israelites to be His people to be trained and prepared for the Messiah’s coming. Second, when the Messiah comes, salvation is extended to all people through the proclamation of the Gospel and people’s faith in Christ. Through the professing of faith and the Baptism, all are united in Christ’s body.

3/ Gospel: People reacted to God’s light.

           

3.1/ People must show their reactions before the Good New of Christ: God could use the star to lead the three wisemen directly to Bethlehem without a stop at Jerusalem; but in order for all inhabitants of Jerusalem to have an equal opportunity to hear the Good New, He withdrew the guiding star so the three wise men must enter Jerusalem to announce the Good New and to ask for direction. St. Matthew reported this event as follows:

            “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him." When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: `And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.'”

3.2/ Three people’s reaction before God’s salvation: Facing the Good New announced by the three wise men, we see three main reactions from the people.

            (1) The indifferent attitude of Jerusalem’s inhabitants in general and of priests and scribes in particular: St. Matthew implied Jerusalem’s inhabitants knew about the Messiah’s coming in this sentence: “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” They were troubled and found the place of the Messiah to be born at, and then, went back to their bed and continued to sleep! They could be hesitated because of darkness, cold weather, but simply because they already had everything and no need of the Messiah. The high priests and the scribes had more serious sins because they were people who understood Scripture and the importance of the Messiah’s coming; but they only used Scripture to find out and to point the way for people to look for him. As for them, they closed the book and denied to be on the way to look for the Messiah.

            (2) King Herode’s wicked attitude: “Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word that I too may come and worship him."” Herode not only refused to welcome the light, he also planned to destroy that light. In life, we also see many attitudes similar to Herod’s. People want to destroy light because they are afraid that light shall display their selfishness, wicked plans and all darkness in their minds and hearts.

            (3) The eager attitude of the three wise men: It was sad day for the Israelites because they waited for the day and the hour of the Messiah’s coming; but when he appeared, only the three wise men from the Gentiles looked for him from far away countries by following a guiding star. They weren’t afraid of long distance, darkness, danger, cold weather of winter, and especially, following a guiding star that could disappear any time. They weren’t discourage when the star disappeared, they entered Jerusalem with a hope that they shall find him through history. And when they were guided by the prophet Micah 5:1-2, they continued on their way.

            They exalted when they saw the guiding star again, and they found the Infant Jesus, the King of all nations. They prostrated to worship him, and then they opened their bags to offer three most precious gifts to the Infant: gold to accept him as the King; frankinsense to worship him as God; and myrrh to fortell the Infant’s Passion and Death. After that, they were revealed in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - God has revealed His love through giving His Only Son for us. What is our reaction before this Good New?

            - Are we eagerly on the road to look for him, or hesitated to leave our privacy because our fear of danger, time consuming and laziness?

            - Many times we turned our back to the light and the truth, not because we don’t know they are the light and the truth; but because we feared that if we accept them, we must live according to what they require. We feared that if we come out to light, we must give up the sins which we are so used to them.

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