Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12 (alternate reading for January 4: John 1:1-18)
It is madness to begin to celebrate Christmas at Thanksgiving. Like all other great events, the Nativity of Christ should be celebrated on the Day itself and then for several days after. In our present form of celebration we are so exhausted by the Festival itself than we want to forget about Christmas a soon as possible. "What a shame Christmas comes during the Holidays" and "Thank Heaven Christmas is over." The Irish sometimes call the feast today "Mothers Christmas" because it was the day on which mothers didnt have to do any work at all. At all, at all. Heaven knows they are entitled to such a day after the mania of Christmas time.
The Greeks and the Russians think there were twelve Magi because as they argue, not unreasonably perhaps, there were twelve legions of angels, twelve apostles, and twelve tribes of Israel. We say three because there are three gifts mentioned. But four magi could have each brought the same gift. Or ten the same gift and the other two different ones. The Greeks also celebrate the coming of Jesus not so much as at his birth as at his manifestation (epiphanos) to the kings, at the Jordan (next Sunday), and at Cana (which shows up only one year out of three, alas). We should reflect today on Jesus manifestation of us in the form of those we love every day of our lives.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time there lived in Bethlehem a woman named Babushka. She kept the cleanest and neatest house in town and was also the best cook. She heard rumors of three kings coming across the desert but paid no attention to them because she had so much work to do.
Then she heard the sounds of drums and pipes and a cavalcade of riders. She looked out the window and there were three richly dressed kings coming towards her house. They told her that they had come to honor the little prince who had been born in Bethlehem and they needed food and lodging. Babushka cooked a wonderful meal for them, remade all the beds, and wore herself out.
The next morning the kings begged her to come with them so she too might see the little prince. Babushka said she would follow after them as soon as she finished the dishes. She cleaned the house again and then took out of a cabinet the toys of her own little prince who had died so long ago. She had no more need of them and would give them to the new little prince. She put them in a basket and sat down for a momentís rest before she followed the wise men.
Hours later she woke up, grabbed the basket, and rushed into town. But the kings were gone and so was the little prince and his parents. Ever after, it is said, Babushka has followed after them. Whenever she finds a new born babe, she looks to see if he is the little prince. Even if he (or in our days she too) is not, Babushka leaves a toy for the child. I think she probably found the prince early on, but we still should learn from her lesson: we should never let the important interfere with the essential.
Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-13
1 Give the king thy justice, O God, and thy righteousness to the royal
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