“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?”
On this Solemnity of the Epiphany we tend to focus on the magi arriving and bringing gifts. We might speak of the gifts and what each means. We might focus on the gifts that we would bring to Jesus, most importantly the gift of our faith. We might focus on the gifts that we give each other, our kindness and love. It is a day of gifts, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Best of all, this day gives us an opportunity to focus on the gift God has given us in the incarnation of His son, Jesus. Jesus, our newborn King.
The magi only appear in St. Matthew’s gospel. St. Luke tells us about the Shepherds, but Matthew focuses on these visitors. Matthew has a strong point he is trying to convey.
Matthew starts his gospel with a long genealogy. It shows us that Jesus family is a royal family, Jesus is in the lineage of kings and other great leaders, both men and women.
Throughout his gospel, Matthew references Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of heaven. Matthew is the one who tells of the magi who came to worship and present gifts to the newborn king. Matthew tells of the triumphant entry of the King and Messiah into Jerusalem. He tells us of the sign that hung over Jesus on the cross — this is the king.
The king is here:
Starting Matthew’s gospel, you might think Elvis has arrived. The King is in the building. Yes, the King has arrived, the King of heaven and earth. He is the one who St. John will tell us was King before the beginning of time.
It had to be so cool. You’d think people would have been very excited. The King has come. He didn’t just show up, but came with the whole show: angels, magi, gold, frankincense, myrrh, a huge star in the sky. Las Vegas or Broadway couldn’t do a better job. Hollywood might work on a movie to make us think we are seeing what these folks saw, but that’s just smoke and mirrors. This was the real deal — the real King.
They didn’t get it:
Seems that very few caught on. The shepherds, simple people, as we previously noted, expectant people, they saw and understood. The magi got it. Even evil Herod kind of understood, he tried to kill the newborn King. Most people didn’t get it though. Not the innkeepers, the royal advisors, not all the folks who stayed home and didn’t go to meet Him. The King arrived to a less than enthusiastic world.
It gets worse of course. As Jesus goes about revealing the kingdom of heaven, and who He is, people still don’t get it. What Jesus is — not what they want. He wasn’t their king. Their king was more like David the warrior. Their king was going to slaughter their enemies, and lead the bloody revolution, restore an earthly and powerful kingdom suited to men.
The real deal:
Today, on the Epiphany, a term which means revelation, we and the world meet the King. Jesus is the King — who fulfilled all the prophecies. Those who didn’t recognize Him were simply looking for the wrong thing We take the example of the magi who came to witness to Jesus’ kingship, the real thing. They recognized Him as King immediately. The people who heard His message, and continue to witness to Him today, we and they recognize Him as King.
Jesus is not a king who came to bring men to power. Jesus is the King who came to bring power to all humanity. Jesus is not a king to rule a kingdom of boundaries, armies, and place. He is the King who rules in the hearts of all who believe in Him, who follow His lead, abide in His word, and love the gift God as given us, our newborn King. Amen.