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January 3, 1992     The Message
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January 3, 1992

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an 3, 1992 The Message .- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana '" q 1 I. , , [" '| r "1 IS  '1 , "[ I[ '1 a i .... ,,l" , "1 Commentary  Ma:s Readings i By FA fliER DONALD DILGER /e Gspel Commentary for Epiphany" Cycle C: ew .... " 2:1-12 t,' The Nativity story most closely associated h Our celebration of Christmas is based on the v.u.Spel of Luke. As children we were taken to s^l! the "crib.,, Forever engraved in our minds c..)nages of a stable and a manger containing a ld Wrapped in linen cloth and surrounded by Th y Joseph and some large domestm ammals. a re are shepherds with their sheep and singing cQg els. Too many people are unaware that Luke '"POsed this beautiful stor not to record his Ybut to teach how all of Ystory famed its ful- s,',.'ent in that holy night. The shepherds repre- ,}lt no particular race or tribe but rather those 0flT the world despises. As always, the Gospel 0ue tells its readers that God's love reaches fi,,eSpeciallv toward those whom the world ",.us so difficult to love, the poor and the out- ts. And so, even God came into the world 'tout . a home and m the poorest surroundings. 3ut there is another story. The Gospel of knows nothing of stables and mangers, shepherds, nor of angels singing on s account of the birth of Jesus is key. His concerns are very different fro_m Matthew writes in the eighties of n'y. His Christian community is a pagans and former practicing the Jewish members of his congregation the first chapter of his gospel. He With the genealogy of Jesus, a very artificial Epiphany of our Lord: Revelation of Jesus to the world or revelation. How pathetic are the annual attempts to find the "star" of Bethlehem in the records and studies of astronomy. That star will never be found because they are looking for the wrong star. The STAR is Jesus who arises out of Israel and through Israel is made known to the nations. If Christians could be weaned from the strange acceptance of this story as recorded history, they would begin to understand its true meaning. Un- less it is placed in the historical context from which it arose in the eighties of the first decade, we cannot grasp its meaning. When Matthew composed this story he was responding to a seri- ous situation in his Christian community. Th non-Jewish members had to understand that Jesus was also their king. But that was not the end of the story. Through the providence of God and the direc- tion of the Spirit that story was written for every generation of Christians including ours. Jesus is king of all nations and of every individual. The role of the Magi is to represent all of us as we put at the disposal of our king the best of what we have, our possessions, our talents and our- selves. With the Magi we bow down and wor- ship. With the .Magi we return home in another way, for once we have.accepted Jesus as our king, we can never be what we were before. Now Jesus becomes the center of our life. Other readings for Epiphany, Cycle C: Isa- iah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5.6. genealogy and not always historically accurate. His point was not history but to demonstrate to his Christian Jews that Jesus their awaited "Son of David" and Messiah. Now what was he to do for the Gentile or non-Jewish Christians in his congregation? How was he to demonstrate that Jesus came into the world not only for the Jews but for all nations? Matthew was a great teacher and a scholar. He knew well the Hebrew Scriptures. He sat down in his library and drew together certain sayings of the prophets and various other stories taken from the Scriptures. There were sayings about all na- tions coming to Jerusalem to worship the Lord. His Scriptures implied that the revelation given to the Jewish people was intended not only for them, but through them for all nations. Above all Matthew knew of a story in the Book of Numbers about a wise man from the East accompanied by two servants. He was summoned by a wicked king but also ordered by God to go and pronounce a blessing upon the Israelites. Within that blessing there was reference to "a STAR will arise out of Jacob and a SCEPTER out of ISRAEL." Taking these and other scriptural texts into consideration, with the genius of a great teacher and led by the Holy Spirit, Matthew composed a beautiful story of how Jesus was re- vealed or made known not only to Jews but to all nations. The story of the Magi coming from the East with royal gifts to worship the "King of the Jews" is the foundational story of the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany means manifestation } S00h.m I Monuments, Inc.. ' DALE. 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