THE VISIT OF THE WISE MEN: A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE DELIVERED BY FR. DANIEL EVBOTOKHAI AT ST. THERESA CATHOLIC CHURCH, FUGAR. 19/12/2021
TEXT: MATTHEW 2:1-12
The Visit of the Wise Men
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.
The three wise men in the text we just listened to saw the star. The star is judged by some teachers as a certain constellation (that is, particular star that you see daily); while others see it as a miraculous phenomenon. What is certain is that they followed a sign and when they saw Jesus they stopped following the sign. We must now focus on Jesus not the star. Today many Christians still follow the readings of the star, scorpion and zodiac and the likes. Follow Jesus and be saved. Some follow pastors and after sometime they begin to wallow. What you follow determines what follows you; if you follow scorpion in search of your destiny you shall have a scorpion-like destiny; but if you follow Jesus, “surely goodness and mercy shall follow you…”
To see the star one has to look up. Look up and be lifted up. Do we really take time to look up? Often times we are weighed down by our worries and anxieties. When we don’t look up we miss our direction. To look up is to be hopeful; a man traveling that is not looking upwards will miss his direction. As Christians we are on a journey to heaven. We must look up; remove our eyes from lust, material things and distraction. Psalm 34:5 says; “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.” We must learn to look away from our body and its concomitant challenges in order for us to be transformed. Again, to look up is to be focus. This Christmas, make a decision to be focused; if the wise men had given in to distraction they wouldn’t have located Jesus. Work on your distractions whether financial; emotional or physical.
These wise men departed by another way. The Gospel says in Matt.2:12 “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.” These men departed by another road as instructed by the angel not because of insecurity or kidnappers but because anyone who encounters Jesus must not go back to Herod. We must not go back to Herod. Herod depicts wickedness, immorality and darkness. Anyone who encounters Christ in the sacraments, prayer and charity must not go back to Herod. If we have truly repented we must not go back to our former ways of life. We must not go back to lust and immoralities 2Cor.5:17 says “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. Behold, the new has come!”
These wise men came to worship Christ. We have come to worship. The wise are worshiping it will be unwise for us not to worship. The wise did not worship with empty hands, it will be unwise for us to come and worship with empty hands. Men of old knew this; they worshipped with the best of their produce. Genesis 4:4 – “And Abel brought the best, the choicest parts of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering.” Genesis 8:20 – “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”Exodus 23:19 – For the three annual festivals, Moses tells the people, “The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” Beloved we too must learn the art of sincere worship.
These wise men brought costly gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold depicts Christ’s kingship; frankincense, his divinity and myrrh, his humanity. These gifts represent the various stages in Christ’s life. But for us, gold means love, frankincense means prayer and myrrh means mortification. Therefore, the life of a true Christian should give expression to love, prayer and penance. Without these factors the Christian life will suffers separation from God.
Again, these wise men prostrated and adored. Psalm 72 developed this theme further when it says “All nations of the earth shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord.” Let us learn to worship. Today even those who are physically fit find it difficult to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament –is a pity; they are not wise. Wise men could prostrate; it will be unwise for us to disregard liturgical gestures.
Friends, let us rise and shine for the light of God has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon us. Are you still sitting in the dark? Arise! Are you still living in sin or partnering with the world? Arise! Beloved, Arise, wake up from that addiction, wake up from that dangerous sleep; wake up from that darkness – your light has come. Paul says in Rom.13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 1 Thess.5:5 calls us children of light. We are children of light not of night or of the dark. Let us desist from every dark acts and manifest as light.
Further reading: [Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6]