Gospel Reflections

Feast of Epiphany

Matthew 2:1-12

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Barbara Barry

Published: January 06, 2019

Read Matthew 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,“Where is the... Read More…


There is a parish just outside Boston that caused a stir this year with its crèche scene.  They placed a cage-like structure over the baby, separating him from the Mary and Joseph figures.  The message was obvious, given the times.  Local talk radio stations aired strong reactions for the first few days with most people making statements about religious organizations keeping out of politics – that religion should stick to faith and not get mixed up with making political statements.

At the same time that this was going on, I found myself on the road quite a bit for work and was struck by how many churches, of all denominations, were advertising the time and date of their Christmas pageants.  I am sure that everyone who is reading this reflection has been at a church pageant to watch young family members tell the Christmas story dressed up as angels or shepherds, or maybe lucky enough to be Mary or Joseph.  We all smile, or even laugh, as wings and halos go every which way and a baby doll miraculously appears to the surprise of the little Mary and Joseph.  And I remember hearing wise adults say, “Christmas is all about children.”  

I beg to differ.  Christmas is not about children.  The incarnation is an earth-shattering event that should turn us inside out, should stand us on our heads – whatever it would take, to see differently.  Jesus among us – Emmanuel – is meant to make a difference in our lives and in how we live our lives.  As an adult Jesus says quite clearly, “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already.”   God among us is about compassion, mercy, justice, the fullness of life for all, especially the poor.  The baby in the manger grows up, the angels’ voices still speak a prophetic message, there are still those among us who dream dreams, Herod still exists in many forms, a bright star still shines in the Christmas sky, and most importantly, the final act of the Magi is still needed today…they return to their homes by another way.  Having experienced the manifestation of a God of unconditional love, they are never again the same.

My prayer for all of us is that the Christmas event so sparks a fire in our hearts that we are never again the same.

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