Today we worship the Child Jesus as the King of all nations. The magi from the east who worshiped the child Jesus are the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy which we heard in Psalm 72.
“The kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts;
the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.
All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.”
The magi from the east “prostrated themselves and did him homage” (Mt. 2:11). They worshiped Jesus as king. They challenge us to kneel before Christ. How will you worship Christ as king this year? As I reflected on this passage, I felt called to pray with a greater sense that Jesus is LORD. For the Hebrew people, the title LORD was used to translate Yahweh who created the world and who opened the Red Sea.
What does it mean to pray to Jesus as LORD? First of all, not to tame Jesus into a nice guy who is a great teacher, but to pray before him as the LORD of the universe. There are several scenes of Matthew’s gospel where people pray like this. In chapter 8, a leper approached Jesus, knelt down before him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean” (Mt. 8:2). Jesus immediately touched him and cured him.
Later, a Canaanite woman begged Jesus to heal her daughter. He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. But the woman came and did him homage (or knelt down) saying, “Lord, help me.” And he healed her daughter (cf. Mt. 15:22-28).
Both the leper and the Canaanite woman knelt before Jesus. It is the same gesture as the magi, the posture of homage before a king. They kneel before him as LORD with power over creation. We get so busy that we often live as though we are carrying the entire burden of our lives. We fail to hand over the burden to God or ask for his intervention. Jesus is not really a king whom we worship. Instead we often live as though we are masters of our destiny.
The goal of Matthew’s gospel is: First, that we would kneel in homage before Jesus to bring our brokenness before him and with confidence ask for healing. Second, that all the nations would worship him as king, and like the Canaanite woman experience his healing.
The Collect or Opening Prayer for this Mass says, “O God, on this day you revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star.” The NATIONS are the non-Jews. Sometimes it is translated as Gentiles as Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians. “The Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).
We are part of the Gentiles. Any person who does not have Jewish heritage is part of the Gentiles or nations. Something new is being revealed to us as the magi do homage to the Christ child. The Old Testament prophecy of God gathering all nations together to worship him has begun. Think of how faith in Jesus has grown since that moment. There are 2.2 billion Christians. That number includes almost 1.3 billion Catholics.
Yet, recent violent international conflicts remind us that we are far from this unity. We have so far to go in the fulfillment of the prophecy as we heard in the psalm, “All kings shall pay him homage, all nations shall serve him.” Do you dream to bring him to all nations? Do you dream of unity among all people?
The Church’s mission to all nations contrasts the isolationist attitude in America these days. FEAR seems to be ruling people’s hearts, rather than FAITH in Christ’s power to bring healing to all nations. FEAR of immigrants rules in America, rather than seeing them as human beings ….. brothers and sisters in dire need.
In the Catholic Church, this week is National Migration Week. In the last few years, there have been more people displaced people than ever before – surpassing even post-World War II numbers. There are over 65 million refugees or displaced persons. Most are women and children
In 2016, the 193 members of the UN general assembly unanimously adopted a declaration for refugees and migrants. They pledged to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they had access to education and jobs. They committed themselves to drafting and approving, before the end of 2018, two Global Compacts, one for refugees and the other for migrants.
Pope Francis urges us to pray for the success of this effort, and to encourage our leaders to address the needs of displaced people. However, last month the U.S. pulled out of the talks on the Global Compacts. It is a sign of the times. A sign of the struggle with the topic of immigration. There is a lot of work to be done.
Do you worship Christ as king? Do you kneel before him with a sense of your poverty, yet with confidence ask him for strength and peace and joy? Kneel in worship today. And thank him for his presence among us.
As we worship Christ the LIGHT of all nations, we need to ask him to shed his light on our nation as it struggles with fear of immigrants. In humility let us pray to ask him to make us servants of his dream to bring his light to all nations?