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January 6, 1989     The Message
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January 6, 1989 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Commentary Gospel commentary for Sunday, January 8, 1989 Matthew 2:1-12 The story of the Magi is well known. Why did Matthew compose and include this story in his gospel? Matthew was writing for a church com- munity composed of converts from Judaism and converts from paganism, Gentiles. His gospel is a compromise between these two factions in his church. In chapters one and two he speaks first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. The Jewish converts would have been especially interested in whether or not Jesus was the promised Messiah, descendant or "Son of David." Matthew uses his first chapter, especially the genealogy, to demonstrate descent from David through Joseph. That is why Joseph is addressed by the angel as "Joseph, Son of David." He is commanded to take Mary as his wife and to name the child when he is born. According to the custom of the time, the one who names the child claims the child. By bestowing the divinely given name upon Jesus, Joseph becomes his legal father. In the second chapter Matthew writes about the visit of the Magi. This chapter is directed at his Gentile converts. They may well have asked: "So what if Jesus is the Jewish Messiah? What is that to us? Is he also the Messiah of the Gentiles? The answer Matthew gives is a "Yes," for that is the function of the Magi, to represent the Gentiles' ac- ceptance of the gospel, acceptance of Jesus. There is no need to go into the matter of whether or not this visit actually happened. The important ques- tion is: What does it mean? The basic answer is that the Magi represent us, the non-Jews who are members of the Christian Church. But the answer is much more involved. The Gentileswant to know how they got there and the Jews as a people or a nation did not. The answer is in this story. First of all, who are the Magi? Our word magician is related to the Greek word "Magos." This was a name applied to anyone from a magician to an astrologer. Since our Magi followed a star, we think of them as astrologers. It is interesting to point out what they are not in Matthew. They are not kings and have no camels. They have no names nor do we know the color of their skin. They do not exist in any of the three other gospels. They do not visit a stable, a cave, or a child in a manger. They come to a house and only see the child and his mother. No Joseph, no manger, no shepherds, no sheep, no ox, no ass, no angels, no hymns. Some of these items belong only in the Gospel of Luke, others are later Christian traditions based on interpretations of various texts from the Hebrew Scriptures. The Magi come to a house? What led them there? They have seen a new star in some way they connect this star with the birth of a king of the Jews, so they have to go to Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jewish people, where a king of the Jews would naturally be found. They bring gifts and want to adore that newborn king. They approach Herod, the current king of the Jews, to ask for directions. Herod has to ask the religious authorities for they alone know the Jewish scrip- tures. They come up with the answer. Bethlehem is the place, a small town not far from Jerusalem. It was the hometown of David the King. The Magi leave Jerusalem. Now the star leads them, twinkl- ing on ahead of them until it stands over a certain house. They enter, find the child with his mother. They adore him and offer their gifts. What is Matthew teaching by this story? Only the Jews have received revelation from God. The Gentiles, however, can come to know God in a limited way through nature, in this case, through a star. They follow nature, the star, but it cannot lead them all the way. They must first receive revelation from those to whom God has given it. They must ask the Jews who consult written revelation, their scriptures. The Jews share that revelation with the Gentiles who can now proceed, find, and adore. They have accepted the gospel. The Jews who have revelation first, and through whom it must come to the Gentiles remain in Jerusalem. They will not act upon the information. They do not go to Bethlehem. They refuse the gospel. Thus Matthew has shown his church why and how the gospel comes to the Gentiles. The visit of the Magi touches us closely for we are the Gentiles. With them we follow the star as we today worship and bring our gifts to him. The Magi showed us the way. The MAGI R US. Other readings for January 8, 1989: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-6. 1988 Continued from page 1 established a special Vatican commission to reconcile priests and laity who had followed the archbishop up to that point but did not want to join him in a schismatic church. Before the formal split, Arch- bishop Lefebvre's worldwide following was estimated to in- clude from half a million to a million Catholics. How many remained with him after the schism could not be gauged. Before the schism he had some 200 priests and 250 seminarians in his Priestly Society of St. Pius X. Five I Buehlers I.G.A. "THE THRIFTY HOUSEWIFE'S SOURCE OF SAVINGS" QUALITY FOODS and MEATS Also Huntlngburg and Oakland Ci,/ KREMPP LUMBER CO. WHOLESALE BUILDING MATERIAL DISTRIBUTION & GENERAL CONTRACTING YARD CONSTRUCTION 482-1961 482-6838 JASPER BECHER & KLUESNER FUNERAL HOME Downtown Chapel, 214 E. 7th North Chapel, 33rd Newton ....l... I" " "'. .......... :::: ::::.:.:.:.:::::: ,  :::::::: JASPER-HUNTINGBURG Car Wash Centers 3 Automatics 12 Self-serve Bays JASPER LUMBER CO. COMPLETE BUILDING SERVICE Ph. 482-1125 RT. 4, JASPER months after his excommunica- God" and attacked discrimina- tion, the Vatican commission tion against women as an effect said that 20 priests and 30 of sin. But he strongly reaf- seminarians from the society firmed the church stand that had applied for reconciliation women canot be ordained with the church, priests. He issued the letter in In February the pope issued a September and linked it to the nev social encyclical, "On special Marian year he had con- Social Concerns," which cluded that previous month. criticized economic and In early August, shortly political ideologies of both the before the papal letter on West and the East, drawing women the Lambeth Con- sharp criticisms from, American ference -- a once-a-decade proponents of economic meeting of the world's liberalism. Anglican bishops -- called on In an apostolic letter, "The member churches to respect Dignity of Women," the pope one another's decisions regar- defended women's equality as ding ordination of female "a gift and right derived from bishops. In September the ECHS Board00 Continued from page I annual fund drives. -- Assisting high school -- Planning and implement- principals in recruiting efforts, ing capital campaigns for -- Maintaining communica- special projects. tion with feeder parishes. -- Devising strategies for in- - Serving as liason to alum- creasing endowments. ni, parent and other support -- Providing appropriate organizations, resource materials for feeder -- Planning and executing parishes and schools. Applications are being accepted at the MESSAGE for a new position: ADVERTISING/CIRCULATION MANAGER Office, sales and "people" skills are required. Responsibilities include mail list management and regular contact with advertisers and subscribers. Applicants may contact: Paul R. Leingang, editor, the Message, P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169. I Episcopal Church, the U.S. Anglican body, moved toward its first woman bishop when its Massachusetts Diocese elected the Rev. Barbara C. Harris as a suffragan bishop. Roman Catholic officials said the Lambeth and U.S. Episcopalian actions placed formidable new obstacles on the path to Catholic-Anglican reunion. On June 29, the day before the Lefebvre schism, Pope John Paul installed 24 new cardinals. They included two Americans, Cardinals James A. Hickey of Washington and Edmund C. Szoka of Detroit. In 1988 the pope beatified two Americans, Father Junipero Serra and Mother Katharine Drexel, and canonized another, St. Rose Phillipine Duchesne. Two images of Christ provoked controversy in 1988. A film artist's image, in the movie "The Last Temptation of Christ," brought prayer vigils, demonstrations and even some attacks on theaters because of its portrayal of Christ having a dream about marrying Mary See 1988 page 9 American National Bank Bicknell - Sandborn Vincennes Driveqn Facilities - Member F.D.I.C. A Full Service Bank FOR COMPLETE I ELECTRICAL SERVICE H.G. FISCHER RT. 1 ST. ANTHONY